PKK militants abduct four soldiers in Diyarbakır province
DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency
The abduction report comes amid escalating tension in the southeast following the deaths of two protesters during a police crackdown on a demonstration in the eastern province of Hakkari’s Yüksekova district on Dec. 6.
A group of militants erected a checkpoint on a road close to Lice where they conducted ID checks on passengers in cars, the report said.
Two sergeants and two lieutenants were forced out of a vehicle and kidnapped. Militants also set three cars on fire, according to the report.
The incident took place nearby the Fis meadow, known as the area where the organization was founded in 1978.
Three of the soldiers, identified as Melik Dikyol, Hakan Özer and Uğur Sert, were stationed at the 49th Motorized Infantry Brigade Commandment in Bingöl north of Lice. The other soldier, identified as Ali Akdemir, was stationed in Erzurum further north.
The soldiers came to Diyarbakır to pass a driving license test, reports said.
Special teams from the gendarmerie have launched an operation to find the abducted soldiers.
Peace process targeted: PM
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused certain groups of aiming to harm the ongoing Kurdish resolution process in his first remarks since the soldiers’ abduction, drawing parallels with the incidents in Hakkari’s Yüksekova.
“These are actions perpetrated by those who want to hurt the process. The same way the Hakkari incidents also were steps undertaken and actions made by those wanted to damage the process. This is a similar event,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying to Doğan news agency. He also vowed to advance the process regardless of the incidents, calling for the release of the soldiers.
“However, we will continue this process under any circumstances, without falling into this trap. [We call] for the immediate release of our soldiers. There is nothing further to say,” Erdoğan said.
On Dec. 6, two men, Veysel İşbilir, 34, and his nephew, Mehmet Reşit İşbilir, 32, died in Hakkari's Yüksekova district during a police crackdown in a rally to protest reports that graves belonging to PKK members had been vandalized.