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Cablegate: Provocative Pkk Attacks in Se Turkey

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O 220820Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002601

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER PGOV TU US IZ
SUBJECT: PROVOCATIVE PKK ATTACKS IN SE TURKEY

(U) Sensitive but unclassified - please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: PKK terrorists have carried out attacks on Turkish
security and other targets over the last 36 hours, accounting for
the deaths of at least 12, and possibly more, security personnel.
At least 16 security personnel were injured, along with another 17
civilians in a separate attack. Early press accounts of the attacks
included allegations that upward of 10 additional security forces
were missing and possibly abducted. However, Turkish General Staff
(TGS) sources have not confirmed this and reporting on that aspect
of the attacks is no longer being seen in most media outlets.
Government leaders have appealed for the public and the media to
remain calm and to refrain from pointing fingers regarding whom is
to blame for this and other multiple casualty attacks carried out by
terrorists over the past three weeks. President Gul chaired an
emergency counter terrorism meeting beginning at 20:00 local time
October 21 to discuss the attacks and the government's response
(reported septel). Meanwhile, TGS sources claim at least 32
terrorist have been killed thus far in ongoing security operations
at 63 separate points in the region along the Turkey-Iraq border.
Ambassador condemned the attacks and expressed USG regret and
support for Turkey to MFA officials, as well as in a public
statement and a televised interview. END SUMMARY

TERROR ATTACKS: At Least 12 Killed, Another 33 Injured
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (SBU) According to Turkish military and other sources, an
unusually large force of PKK terrorists, numbering upwards of 200,
carried out a coordinated attack on a Turkish military convoy
carrying security forces who were pursuing terrorists who have been
active in the area in recent weeks. The attack occurred on a bridge
near the town of Daglica in Hakkari Province, several kilometers
north of the Iraqi border. The terrorists attacked from three
separate directions beginning about 00:20 local time on October 21,
blowing up the bridge and opening fire on vehicles. TGS announced
that 12 soldiers were killed in the ambush, with another 16 injured,
several critically. These numbers are slightly lower than initial
reporting that appeared in local press. Reports of another eight to
ten soldiers missing and possibly abducted remain unconfirmed, and
most media outlets have scaled back their reporting on this aspect
of the attack.

3. (SBU) In a separate attack, at least one minibus traveling in a
civilian convoy reportedly hit an IED buried beneath the road
surface in the same general area (near Daglica) at about 13:30 local
time on October 21. The convoy was traveling to a village to pick
up a bride for a wedding ceremony. 17 civilians are reported as
having been injured in that attack, including five children.

Officials and Opposition Leaders Condemn Attack; Call For Action
--------------------------------------------- --------

4. (SBU) Reaction to the attacks from across the political spectrum
has been strident. However, GOT officials have appealed for public
calm and have sought to reassure the Turkish people that the state
will react in a way and at a time that is in the nation's best
interest. After casting his vote for the constitutional amendment
referendum in Istanbul, PM Erdogan said that the nation's fury is
high, but called for a display of national unity. "We are
determined to deal with this issue with common sense... (and) will
hold a meeting under the chairmanship of our President to decide
what steps we will take. As our parliament had authorized us, we
will do whatever necessary within the legal framework of this
authorization." He urged the media to broadcast reports
responsibly.

5. (SBU) President Gul expressed sorrow and pain on behalf of the
nation. He said the Turkish people should be confident that the
entire nation is together in the struggle against terrorism and that
Turkey must display determination and wisdom in its next steps. In
addition to the counter terror meeting convened late in the evening
October 21 (septel), Gul has invited leaders of the political
parties represented in parliament for meetings to be held on the
morning of October 22 in an effort to maintain unity across

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political party lines. He underlined the importance of preserving
brotherhood within the country. Gul also said Turkey attaches a
great deal of importance to the political integrity and territorial
unity of Iraq...more so than some Iraqi groups.

6. (SBU) Deputy PM and government spokesman Cemil Cicek asked the
public to remain calm, noting that protest demonstrations had taken
place across the nation. He said the spontaneous demonstrations had
been initiated with good intentions, but warned against the danger
of "provocateurs" (NFI) getting involved. He asked the public to
have full confidence in the state and security forces and repeated
that "the GOT, security forces and relevant offices were continuing
the fight against terrorism with full determination." Television
outlets quoted Minister of Defense Vecdi Gonul as saying the
government "will consider crossing the border...but not
immediately."

7. (SBU) In addition to demonstrations in various cities around the
nation, Turks have reacted both with anger and sorrow. All major
television outlets have cancelled their normally scheduled live
entertainment programs. The Golden Orange Film Festival and Award
Ceremony in Antalya was also canceled. There have been no organized
protests at mission facilities. However, there have been several
isolated incidents at the embassy in which individuals or small
groups drove by yelling anti-American statements.

8. (SBU) Opposition politicians also denounced the attacks and
called for swift retaliation. Republican People's Party Chairman
Deniz Baykal denounced the attack and said a "national platform
against terrorism" should be established immediately. He called
upon civilian and military leaders to come together and display a
common resolve. Nationalist Action Party leader Devlet Bahceli said
that the government should immediately determine when and how to
move forward with military action authorized by parliament earlier
this week, adding that a cross border operation (CBO) should
definitely be launched and the "shed blood should not remain without
response." He asked GOT leaders to take all necessary measures to
deal with the threat to the nation, including the possibility of
declaring a state of emergency. Pro-Kurdish Democratic Society
Party (DTP) parliamentary group chairman Ahmet Turk said that his
party is sorry about the incident, as they always are about such
incidents.

Security Operation Continues
-----------------------------

9. (SBU) According to TGS sources, counter terror operations
continue in Hakkari Province, in the region near where the attacks
occurred. At last report, 32 PKK terrorists have been killed in the
fighting, with press reports claiming that Turkish military
helicopters have fired upon fleeing PKK forces. Further west along
the border, in the area of the Habur Gate border crossing and
Silopi, the situation remains normal.

Ambassador Condemns Attacks...Voices Support for GOT
--------------------------------------------- ----

10. (SBU) Ambassador spoke with MFA Acting Under Secretary Ali Acet
in mid-afternoon on October 21 and expressed U.S. regrets for the
attacks and USG support for the GOT. He asked that MFA keep the
embassy informed as matters developed. He also urged that GOT
officials keep in mind the trap the PKK is attempting to set in
order to precipitate Turkish military action in Iraq and drive a
wedge between the GOT and authorities in Baghdad. Ambassador also
spoke with Under Secretary Apakan late Sunday night to convey the
same message. Acet labeled the attacks as inexcusable and said
Turkey is committed to taking steps to prevent a recurrence. He
added that no statements by the Iraqis, including by President
Talabani or KRG President Barzani, can at this point ease the
emotional outrage felt by Turks.

11. (SBU) Ambassador released a public statement condemning the
attacks and later reiterated the points in a televised interview on
NTV. The NTV correspondent, who has exceptionally good contacts
with the government, military, and bureaucracy, said that he expects

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Turkish air strikes against PKK encampments adjacent to Hakkari.

12. (SBU) COMMENT: The attack on the military convoy was unusual in
its scope and the size of the force employed by the PKK. PKK
attacks in recent years have involved far fewer personnel. This
operation involving over 200 fighters is reminiscent of PKK attacks
at the height of the anti-Turkish violence of the 1990s and
demonstrates the desperate nature with which the PKK is pursuing its
effort to provoke a CBO by Turkish forces and to prevent
Turkish-Iraqi cooperation countering the terrorist group's
operations in northern Iraq.

WILSON

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