Outlawed Kurdish group ends cease-fire in Turkey
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has called off a unilateral cease-fire with Turkey, according to a statement published on Monday by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency, DPA reported.
The PKK, considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, had announced a cease-fire on August 13, before the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and extended it in November.
It was the latest of several cease-fires that the group had announced and honoured for various length of time since 2005.
The Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), a group considered to be the urban branch of the PKK, said in a statement that the PKK was abandoning the cease-fire because of the failure of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to deal with Kurdish issues.
In 2009 the AKP launched an initiative called the "Kurdish opening," aimed at addressing the problems faced by Turkey's Kurdish minority, but the initiative stalled politically and produced few concrete results.
Turkey is gearing up for general elections in June. If the end of the cease-fire sparks an increase in violence, it could potentially sway public opinion and affect the outcome of the elections.
The statement said the organization would "defend itself more effectively against attacks but not attack."
The PKK and the Turkish military fought a guerrilla war during the 1980s and 1990s that killed an estimated 40,000 people.
Although the group initially sought to establish an independent Kurdish state, it now says it is fighting for increased political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey.
During the six months prior to the August cease-fire, clashes between the group and the Turkish army, as well as bombing raids on PKK camps by Turkey's air force, led to the deaths of dozens of soldiers and militants.