Likely PKK attack in Turkey’s black sea region leaves three soldiers dead

Originally produced for Armed Politics in August 2016

An attack yesterday in Ordu province, in Turkey’s northern black sea region, left three soldiers dead and two wounded. The attack came on an army outpost in a mountainous, forested area in the Mesudiye district of the province. The assailants reportedly escaped. The attack came within hours of another attack in Hakkari province in Turkey’s south east which took the life of one soldier. In the panic following the attack in Mesudiye, an armoured vehicle reportedly crashed and overturned, causing one of the injuries.

The attack was blamed on members of the PKK and bears the hallmarks of the group and similar organizations’ style. While the area is within the historic reach of the organization, this last year’s round of fighting has been concentrated mainly in the country’s south east, where yesterday’s second attack occurred. Moreover, Mesudiye is not a strategic location in the current conflict. The area within the district where the attack occurred, Topcam, was described as quiet and out of the way by locals.

One Kurdish nationalist group, Hawks of Kurdistan Freedom (TAK), has for a long time been threatening to bring the conflict out of the south east of the country and to hit all of Turkey. This is not to say TAK is behind the attack but the motive to this attack is likely something similar to this. This is an easy target for the PKK and similar groups, in that the terrain is mountainous and forested, and the soldiers were not expecting an attack and so likely not as alert as their counterparts in the south east. By striking in an unusual and un-strategic area, the group behind the attack is threatening Turkey broadly. It is a statement of power, demonstrating their reach. All police and soldiers across the province were ordered to wear bullet-proof vests after the attack, especially with the attackers still at large. Attacks such as this threaten stability across Turkey and create an atmosphere of tension. It also represents an escalation which will doubtless draw a response from the Turkish armed forces.

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