Five Soldiers Wounded in Roadside Bomb Attack in Southeast Turkey
Five soldiers were injured in a roadside bomb attack in the southeastern province of Tunceli, the daily Hürriyet reported Wednesday.
The soldiers were responding to a kidnapping and arson attack by alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, near the Pülümür district in Tunceli when the bomb went off.
PKK members barricaded the road between Tunceli and Erzincan provinces near Pülümür district and kidnapped a village guard named İsmail Gürbüz. The militants also took two petrol tankers to a nearby avalanche tunnel and set them on fire, causing extensive damage to the tunnel.
The report said the PKK members also stole numerous vehicles that could be used in possible attacks in the future.
Around 10 militants wearing military uniforms forced two trailer trucks to stop near the village of Suveren in Iğdır by shooting at their tires. The two truck drivers, Adem Yılmaz and Yusuf Demir, were forced to leave the vehicles, after which the militants set fire to the trucks. The militants eventually released the two drivers who made their way to a gendarmerie post by hitchhiking. The two trucks were carrying a load of beans from Uzbekistan to the southern province of Mersin.
Another engineering vehicle and a pickup truck were also set on fire by alleged PKK members around 11 a.m. on Tuesday on the outskirts of Mount Ararat in the same province.
A truck carrying construction materials to the Yeniyazı gendermarie outpost in the southeastern province of Bingöl was set on fire on Sept. 17.
Eight Teachers, One Village Guard Kidnapped by PKK
Alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, kidnapped eight teachers in two separate provinces in southeastern Turkey on Tuesday. Militants also kidnapped a village guard, İsmail Gürbüz, in the eastern province of Tunceli.
The teachers were returning to the Arıcak district of Elazığ province from the Yoğunbilek village school when their vehicle was stopped by PKK militants near Gündoğdu village around 5 p.m.
The militants left behind the four female teachers and the van driver but abducted the remaining male teachers, who were identified as Gökhan Yıldız, Abdullah Karan, İrfan Sarıkaya and İsmail Yücel, all born in Elazığ.
PKK members abducted elementary school teacher Ahmet Ürün from his home in the Çiftlibahçe village of Diyarbakır on Tuesday night. Two more teachers in Dolunay village and another in Çavundur village in Diyarbakır were also kidnapped by the PKK.
Reports said operations were underway to apprehend the kidnappers.
'Do Not be Affected by Such Incidents'
The kidnappings come days after Education Minister Ömer Dinçer had commented on the use of teachers as human shields by the PKK in an attack in the southeastern province of Siirt over the weekend, saying, "All precautions are being taken by security forces. These are isolated events. Our teachers can continue doing their work."
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
NATO Official Makes Missile Trip to Ankara
The visit of a senior NATO commander to Ankara on Tuesday for talks regarding a radar system in southeastern Turkey as part of the alliance's missile shield project came as Iran increased its criticism of Turkey's recent attitude toward Israel.
"Landing in Ankara, Turkey, for discussions on missile defense, Afghanistan, Libya, and NATO reform," NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe James Stavridis said in a post on Twitter late Monday.
Stavridis held talks in Turkey after visits to Israel and Romania, meeting with Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz. Although the admiral requested an appointment with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, he could not meet Turkey's premier due to Erdoğan's busy schedule. The core of the discussions was the U.S.-led NATO missile shield project, whose early-warning radar system will be deployed in Turkey.
Ankara decided to host the radar at a military facility base near Malatya as part of NATO's defense architecture. The discussions also included Turkey's objections to Israel's attempt to open a representation office at NATO headquarters, the Daily News has learned.
Turkey blocked a recent Israeli attempt to open an office at NATO headquarters when Tel Aviv submitted a request in early September. Israel has made requests to open a representation office at NATO headquarters under NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue program that was launched in 1994 with seven Mediterranean countries.
The Iranian supreme leader's top advisor for military affairs, Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim, played down the current tension between Turkey and Israel, characterizing it as a political gesture.
"Turkey's gestures against the Zionists are political and they [the Turks] have maintained their relations [with the Zionist regime] behind the scenes," he said on Monday, according to the Iranian news agency Fars.
Ankara has rejected suggestions that NATO and Israel could share intelligence data collected by the U.S.-led radar system in eastern Turkey, insisting that the information should be available only for alliance members.
Stavridis last visited Turkey in March to discuss Turkish participation in NATO-led operations in Libya.
Meanwhile, pro-Turkish chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' foreign affairs committee's sub-committee on Europe and Eurasia Dan Burton met Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and was scheduled to meet with President Abdullah Gül and Erdoğan when the Daily News went print.
Erdogan Reiterates Pledge to Protect Natural Resources Rights
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey would take all necessary measures to defend its rights over natural resources in the sea during a ceremony to launch Turkey's first domestic warship.
Amid rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey's first domestically made warship was formally delivered to the Turkish Navy.
"Turkey's interests in the seas reach from surrounding waters out to Suez Canal and Indian Ocean," Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey would take all the necessary measures to defend its commercial interests and its rights over the natural resources in the sea. "We have sent the Piri Reis [a Turkish exploration vessel] to the eastern Mediterranean for research activities. We will continue to bring into action anything that our national interests requires without any hesitation," Erdoğan said.
As Erdoğan continued his harsh rhetoric over the gas drilling operation of Greek Cyprus, the Turkish research ship Piri Reis entered block 13 off Cyprus where Greek Cypriots are continuing natural gas exploration with United States company Noble Energy, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources confirmed.
Sources added that the Piri Reis was only 60 kilometers away from the Greek Cypriot drilling platform. Erdoğan has already said the Turkish ship will be escorted by the Turkish Navy; the Turkish frigate Yavuz set sail from its Turkish Mediterannean base two days ago to escort and conduct patrolling duties.
Despite Erdogan's words, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said tensions were decreasing in the eastern Mediterranean.
"After Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called Prime Minister Erdoğan [Monday] and they talked on the phone for one hour, the tension decreased and things began returning to normal in the eastern Mediterranean," Yılmaz told the Hürriyet Daily News.
President Abullah Gül said Turkey was now building its own warships with its own engineers, workers and technicians, which in the past it had to buy from other countries and proud of this fact.
"Even the countries whose national income is way behind ours have decided to make nuclear weapons because their rivals have done so," Gül said. "Nobody wants war, war is the worst case scenario, but if you want to maintain peace and stability you also have to be ready for war."
Turkey, France to Sign Cooperation Agreement to Fight Terrorism
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant will pay a formal visit to the Turkish capital of Ankara on Oct. 6, when the two countries will sign a cooperation agreement on domestic security.
Gueant and Turkish Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin will put their signatures under the agreement, which will cover concrete cooperation mechanisms in combatting terrorism. The agreement has an underlying importance as it is the first time Turkey will sign such a comprehensive text on domestic security with an important European Union member state.
Once the presidential secretary general and President Nicolas Sarkozy's "right hand man," Gueant will be received by Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara.
France has been staging intense operations against the terrorist organization PKK for the last two years.
The Paris Court recently tried 18 people, including top members of the terrorist organization in Europe. The prosecutor's office demanded prison terms ranging between six months and six years for the suspects, and requested that the headquarters of the terrorist organization in Paris be closed. The court will make its verdict on the case on Nov. 2.