World Bulletin / News Desk
At least one person has died and two people were wounded in clashes between protesters and Turkish security forces in the mainly Kurdish soth-eastern city of Diyarbakir during an operation to remove an illegal statue of a founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) organization.
Soldiers backed by military helicopters were removing the statue of Mahsum Korkmaz, the first field commander of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, in the Lice district when they came under attack, the military said.
"Security forces immediately responded after the group attacked them with rocket launchers, rifles and hand-made explosives," it said in a statement, estimating the number of protesters at up to 250.
It said military vehicles and two helicopters were damaged by bullets during the unrest.
Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the statue and the protest at its demolition had been an attempt to derail a two-year-old peace process between the government and the PKK.
"This statue issue came out of the blue. Significant developments are taking place in the peace process, and a statue pops up. This is a clear provocation against the peace process," Atalay told NTV television.
"What happened at the end is that we unfortunately lost one life," he said.
The statue of Mahsum Korkmaz, who died in battle in 1986, had been erected at a cemetery for PKK fighters in the city's Lice district last year to mark the anniversary of the PKK's first attack in Turkey in 1984.
However, after the Diyarbakir Governor’s Office filed a legal complaint and ordered an investigation on Sunday, a Diyarbakir court ruled for the demolition of the statue on Monday.
On Tuesday morning, clashes brokes out as security forces arrived to remove the statue, resulting in the death of 24-year-old Mehdi Taskin.
Hurriyet Daily News reported that the roads going to Lice have been blocked by security forces, while the local Governor's Offices prepares to release a statement into the incident later today.
The PKK is recognized both in and out Turkey as a terrorist organization which seeks to create an independent Kurdistan state in the country's south-east.
These latest incidents come as jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and Turkish negotiators are said to be close to reaching a long-term peace deal.
Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan told pro-Kurdish lawmakers visiting him at the weekend that his movement's war with the Turkish state was nearing its end, while prime minister and president-elect Tayyip Erdogan has made the Kurdish peace process one of his priorities.
Turkey began peace talks with Ocalan in 2012, and last month parliament approved a legal framework for the process for the first time, an important step towards ending the insurgency.
Erdogan has staked considerable political capital in the Kurdish peace efforts, broadening cultural and language rights for Kurds at the risk of alienating some of his own grassroots support.
Kurds account for around a fifth of Turkey's population and their backing could boost Erdogan's chances of changing the constitution to strengthen the powers of the presidency after he takes office at the end of the month.Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Ağustos 2014, 17:24