July 7, 2010 / 11:07 AM / 9 years ago

REFILE-FACTBOX-Who are the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)?

(Refiles to remove extraneous word in headline)

July 7 (Reuters) - Kurdish guerrillas attacked a military outpost in southeast Turkey overnight, killing one soldier and wounding two others, security sources told Reuters.

Here are some details on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebel group, which called off a cease-fire on June 1 and has stepped up its attacks after accusing the Turkish government of not being serious about its bid to boost Kurdish rights.



* BEGINNINGS:

— Abdullah Ocalan founded the group in 1974 and adopted the name Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in 1978 for a Marxist-Leninist insurgency fighting for an independent Kurdish state.

* FIGHT FOR A HOMELAND:

— The PKK took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in the southeast. Nearly 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since then.

— The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

— Ocalan was captured and sentenced to death by a Turkish court in 1999, but the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in October 2002 after Turkey abolished the death penalty.

— Fighting dwindled after Ocalan’s capture. It also led to many PKK unilateral ceasefires and to the withdrawal of rebel fighters from Turkey.

* POLITICAL STRUGGLE:

— After his capture, Ocalan emphasised the importance of winning rights for the Kurds through political rather than armed struggle. In a statement last week, Ocalan said a "democratic solution" was possible if Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reformed the constitution and ended anti-terror laws in the southeast.

— The PKK has scaled back its demands. It says it no longer wants an independent state but recognition of Kurdish rights.

* FIGHTING RESUMES:

— Erdogan’s government has lifted some restrictions on Kurdish cultural and political rights in a bid to end the conflict. Kurds say Erdogan’s "democratic opening" were just words, and that restrictions and mass arrests of Kurdish politicians in the southeast have continued.

— Citing lack of progress, Ocalan said in May there was no point in continuing peace efforts. On June 1, the PKK formally scrapped its 14-month unilateral cease-fire.

— More than 80 Turkish soldiers have been killed in fighting so far in 2010, exceeding the toll in 2009.

— Under pressure to end violence, Turkish military forces are deploying troops and elite forces along the border with Iraq, where the PKK has bases. In February 2008, thousands of Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq in their hunt for PKK rebels. Eight days later Turkish forces withdrew.

— The PKK has been weakened by Turkish military operations against its bases in northern Iraq. Most of around 4,000 PKK fighters are based in the mountains of neighbouring northern Iraq, from where they launch attacks on Turkish targets. Washington provides intelligence on PKK movements to Ankara.



* RECENT MAJOR INCIDENTS:

May 31 - Six Turkish soldiers were killed in a rocket attack on a naval base in the Mediterranean port city of Iskenderun close to the Syrian border.

June 19 - An attack which marked a fresh escalation in the 26-year-old insurgency, killed 11 soldiers and 12 PKK guerrillas in the southeastern province of Hakkari, near the border with Iraq. After the battle the Turkish air force struck PKK targets in the mountains of northern Iraq, where the rebels are based.

July 4 - The flow of oil on Iraq’s main pipeline to Turkey was halted after a technical problem on the Iraqi side was compounded by a bomb attack by suspected PKK rebels.

July 5/6 - PKK rebels attack an army outpost in southeast Turkey overnight, triggering a clash in which 12 rebels and three soldiers are killed.






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