Three female Kurdish campaigners have been killed in fighting in a curfew-hit town in southeast Turkey as the authorities press an offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the main pro-Kurdish party said on Wednesday.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said three of its female campaigners and another as-yet-unidentified man had been shot and badly wounded in Silopi town in Sirnak province late on Monday, accusing the authorities of failing to evacuate them despite pleas. All four died.
“These three women and the man were shot on Monday in the evening. They called to say ‘We are wounded and losing blood, so get us out of here’,” Leyla Birlik, the party’s MP for Sirnak province, said.
“The HDP asked the authorities to evacuate them (from Silopi) but got no response,” she added.
Silopi has been under curfew since December 14 as the authorities wage a major military operation to crush the PKK in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of the country.
The government says the PKK effectively took over towns by erecting barricades and digging trenches. But Kurdish activists say excessive use of force has killed dozens of civilians.
The HDP identified the three women as Seve Demir, Pakize Nayir and Fatma Uyar. The man has not been identified because his face was so badly disfigured, it said. It was not clear under what circumstances they were hit or who fired the fatal shots.
There was no immediate comment on the incident from the authorities. Pro-Kurdish media insisted they were civilians and not combatants.
“The targeting of three women in the vanguard of the resistance was not a coincidence. They targeted the freedom struggle of all women,” HDP’s co-leader Figen Yuksekdag said in a party statement.
The PKK launched a formal insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for Kurdish independence although now more for greater autonomy and rights for the country’s largest ethnic minority.
The conflict, which has left tens of thousands dead, looked like it could be nearing a resolution until an uneasy truce was shattered in July.