Once at the forefront of the war against Kurdish separatists, Diyarbakir residents say they want to put the past behind.
Turkish authorities have reimposed a curfew in the southeastern city of Cizre a day after it was lifted, saying they will use the curfew to arrest suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters.
The Turkish authorities had ended the week-long curfew on Saturday night after conducting an “anti-terror” operation in which it said 32 PKK fighters were killed.
“To ensure the security of our people’s lives and property during the arrest of members of the separatist terror organisation, a curfew has been announced from 7pm [1600 GMT] until further notice,” Ali Ihsan Su, Sirnak region’s governor, said in a statement on Sunday, using the usual official phrase for the PKK.
The latest curfew, which started at 7pm local time on Sunday, has been imposed until further notice.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said 21 civilians were dead after the most recent operation, which deprived residents of access to essential amenities and triggered food shortages.
Meanwhile, in Diyarbakir, the southeastern region’s largest city, another curfew was imposed on Sunday after clashes with PKK fighters resulted in the deaths of nine people.
The conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK has flared up as Turkey prepares for a snap parliamentary election on November 1 after a June vote was inconclusive.
Earlier on Sunday, the PKK fighters killed two police officers in a car bomb attack on a checkpoint in Sirnak province, unleashing a deadly raid by Turkish forces.
The security forces, backed up by helicopters and commandos, later on Sunday, shelled a mountainous area where the PKK fighters had fled to after the checkpoint attack in Sirnak, killing six of them, the sources told the Reuters news agency.
A policeman was reportedly killed in another confrontation.
Hundreds of fighters and more than 100 police and soldiers have died since a ceasefire collapsed in July, shattering a peace process launched in 2012.
The violence is the worst Turkey has seen in two decades.
The Diyarbakir governor’s office said it had placed the central historic Sur district under a round-the-clock curfew. Security sources said seven police officers were wounded in clashes there.
In other central areas of the city, police fired tear gas and water cannon at groups of youths who threw stones and tried to set up street barricades in protest against the curfew.
Diyarbakir, a city of nearly a million people situated along the Tigris River, has been at the heart of the war between the state and PKK fighters for three decades.
Plea for talks
Speaking near the Sur district, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas, called for the Turkish state and PKK leadership across the border in Iraq’s Qandil mountains to halt the violence and return to peace talks.
“Both Ankara and Qandil must take a position that responds to the people’s expectation with a clear, concrete project,” Reuters reported him as saying.
“Even if the peace [talks] table has been upturned, it is in our power to put it up again.”
The PKK reportedly launched another attack on Sunday with rocket-propelled grenades and rifles in the Silvan district of Diyarbakir province, killing one police officer and wounding another, one security source told Reuters.
Local officials said they also declared a curfew in that area.