Erdogan: 7 soldiers martyred in ammo depot explosion

Defective ammo blast occurred in southeastern Hakkari province on Friday

Erdogan: 7 soldiers martyred in ammo depot explosion

At least seven Turkish soldiers have been martyred and 25 others injured in an ammo depot explosion in southeast Turkey, the country’s president said on Saturday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking at a ceremony, marking 80th death anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, in the capital Ankara.

"Seven Turkish soldiers were martyred and almost 25 others were injured in an ammo depot explosion in southeastern province of Hakkari. Rest in peace. I also wish quick recovery to injured ones," Erdogan said.

The defective ammo blast in Hakkari had occurred on Friday.

"Twenty-five of our military personnel were injured today at the Ortaklar Sungu Tepe military base in the Semdinli district when defective ammunition detonated during artillery shooting," said the National Defense Ministry on Friday.

Meanwhile, Erdogan criticized the U.S. for putting bounty on key PKK terrorists, while cooperating with terror group at the same time.

"We are aware of those who listed PKK as a terrorist organization and put bounty on key leaders, but cooperated with them in the background," Erdogan said.

"We always tell them [U.S. officials] this game will fail and those, who walk alongside terrorist organizations, will be disappointed," he said. 

Turkish army will continue to destroy terror in northern Iraq, the president added.

U.S. Department of State on Tuesday put a bounty on three key PKK terrorists, according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

Those who give information on the identification or location of the terrorists Murat Karayilan (up to $5 million), Cemil Bayik (up to $4 million) and Duran Kalkan (up to $3 million) will be rewarded as part of the State Department's Rewards for Justice program.

The announcement came after U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer’s official visit to the capital Ankara.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU. In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, it has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.

Separately, Erdogan slammed those who are calling for switching adhan (call to prayer) from Arabic to Turkish language.

"Defending adhan in Turkish language, a symbol of Turkey's single party era, is a sign of enmity towards values of the nation," he said, adding it should be recited in its original language, which is Arabic.

"If we recite the adhan in Turkish, Turks understand it only. But if it's recited in Arabic, it means the adhan is universal," Erdogan said.

The debate for switching Muslim call to prayer (adhan) from Arabic language to Turkish is “wrong,” said a senior lawmaker of Turkey’s main opposition party on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in parliament on Thursday, Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmaker Abdullatif Sener criticized the push by Ozturk Yilmaz, another CHP lawmaker, to change the adhan's language to Turkish.

In a recent appearance, Yilmaz argued that the Muslim call to prayer, or adhan, should be changed from Arabic to Turkish. His remarks were slammed by the party administration as well as CHP lawmakers.

From 1932 to 1950, in Turkey’s single-party era of CHP rule, the adhan was recited in Turkish, but then-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes ended the practice in 1950.