Pro-Kurdish party leader calls for steps to halt Turkey violence
The PKK announced it was stepping up attacks in mid-July over what it said were violations by Turkish forces of a 2013 ceasefire
The leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party called on Saturday for the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to "remove its finger from the trigger" and for the government to halt a surge in violence by launching talks.
The PKK announced it was stepping up attacks in mid-July over what it said were violations by Turkish forces of a 2013 ceasefire. The violence worsened when Turkey began an air campaign against PKK camps in northern Iraq on July 24.
Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas was speaking a day after six people were killed in clashes between security forces and militants in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
"Today we call to both sides: the PKK must immediately remove its finger from the trigger and declare it will observe the ceasefire," Demirtas told reporters in the southeastern city of Van.
He said the government must halt security operations and declare itself ready for dialogue.
Demirtas' HDP won 13 percent of the vote in a June 7 parliamentary election. He has considerable influence among the party's grassroots Kurdish supporters, most of whom are sympathetic to the PKK.
The flare-up in violence comes at a time of political uncertainty in Turkey. A coalition has yet to be established, raising the possibility of a snap election.
"A coalition may be formed or not but peace is urgent. Mr Davutoglu, we are not requesting this from you. You are obliged to do it," Demirtas said in comments addressed to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Ankara launched a peace process with the PKK in late 2012 and a ceasefire declared in 2013 had largely held until now.
As well as PKK targets, Turkish jets have hit Islamic State positions in Syria. Ankara has also allowed the U.S.-led coalition targeting the IS militants to use its air bases.
On Friday evening militants fired a rocket at an armoured car in the town of Cizre, killing a police officer and wounding another, security sources said.
Earlier that day, three people were killed and seven wounded during clashes between police and PKK in the town of Silopi, like Cizre in Sirnak province, close to Turkey's borders with Syria and Iraq.
In two other separate incidents in Van and Agri provinces, militants killed two soldiers, bringing the death toll among Turkish security forces since July 20 to at least 21.
The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and European Union, launched its insurgency in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
- Striking ISIS from Turkey: Does the coalition have the upper hand?
- Turkey freezes assets of Saleh and Houthi leaders
- Two killed in fresh clashes in southeast Turkey
- Turkey offers U.S. access to other air bases: diplomat
- Iran, Turkey must work together to fight ISIS: Rowhani
- First U.S. drone strike from Turkey against ISIS in Syria