Kurdish Workers Party claims it has disarmed

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

ANKARA The Kurdish Workers Party, which in September threatened to renew an insurgency war against Turkey, said it has disarmed.

The PKK, also known as Kadek, asserted that it has sold its weapons in northern Iraq. About 5,000 PKK insurgents were said to have been based in the region along the Turkish border.

A PKK statement said its members sold their weapons in the villages of the Kandil mountains. The mountains served as a shelter for the group.

Turkish sources did not confirm the PKK claim. But they said many PKK members, pressed by the Iraqi Governing Council, have sought to leave northern Iraq for Western Europe.

The PKK statement said the disarming of the group is part of a strategy to abandon combat. The group said it no longer has enemies.

"The organization has no need for weapons," the statement said. "The organization is not participating in the arms trade. Many weapons and components were sold in nearby villages around the Kandil mountains. The organization is giving up its weapons to participate in the political system. The organization will now continue its struggle in the political arena."

In September 2003, the PKK announced the renewal of its insurgency war against Turkey. Several border operations were reported but Turkish sources said they were foiled by Turkish and U.S. troops, who have engaged in joint patrols in northern Iraq.

In December 2003, the PKK appeared to change its mind and said it would engage in political activity. The group also changed its name to the Kurdistan People's Congress.

The PKK said it has not sold all of its weapons. The group said it still possesses missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.

In Washington, the State Department has determined that the PKK has continued to engage in what the department termed terrorist activity since the organization's latest name change on Nov. 11, 2003. The PKK and its latest designations have been included on the department's list of terrorist groups.

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