Turkey’s justice minister Wednesday accused PKK terrorists of killing civilians and blaming the deaths on the security forces.
Bekir Bozdag said the PKK "on one side kills civilian citizens, on the other side makes separate propaganda saying ‘the state killed’."
The minister was talking about the renewed violence in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast, where security forces have been tackling the PKK since mid-July in the three-decade-long conflict’s latest chapter.
Figures on the numbers of civilians killed are disputed and difficult to verify but in September a security source told Anadolu Agency that more than 6,700 had been killed since the PKK first launched its armed campaign in 1984.
"Yes there are civilian people [killed] but most of them, almost all, are killed by the terrorists opening fire and their bullets," Bozdag told Anadolu Agency’s Editor Desk in Ankara on Wednesday.
"Of course, the judicial investigation regarding these continues."
The latest operations in the southeast have been concentrated on a number of towns in Diyarbakir, Mardin and Sirnak provinces, where military curfews were imposed in mid-December. Nearly 600 PKK members have been killed in the operations, the Turkish military said Tuesday.
Bozdag said the operations were taking a long time as the security forces were taking care not to harm civilians.
He added that "there is not another country in the world that carries out the anti-terror fight within and in accordance with the law as Turkey does."
Turning to Tuesday’s terror attack in Istanbul that killed 10 and wounded 15, Bozdag called for a united approach from Turkey’s political parties.
"The political entities in Turkey are obliged to stand united against terror," he said. "This is a must for an effective fight."
He added: "If we want to defeat terror, then all political parties in Turkey must see this as an issue that is above politics and fight against it together."