A Turkish army lieutenant died last night and another wounded by gunfire from militants of the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK), according to local media.
The guerrillas fired at military while they were conducting a patrol in the province of Van, near the Iranian border, according to the information coming from the field.
This is the first time that the death of a Turkish soldier in an attack by the PKK since the peace process between the military and the State in October 2012 began, and since the PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire in March following year.
The militia took up arms against the state in 1984, initially demanding independence for the Kurds in Turkey, but has now moderated their demands and claims autonomy and recognition of social and political rights for the Kurdish minority. The conflict has left more than 40,000 dead, mostly militants and civilians. Turkey, the European Union and the United States considers the PKK a terrorist organization.
The event last night came hours after a Kurdish boy died in the town of Lice shot by Turkish security forces in a clash for the demolition of a statue of one of the founders of the PKK. Later, also an Army sergeant died died of a gunshot wound that occurred accidentally in a gendarmerie post, according to unnamed sources in the security forces quoted by the semi-state news agency Anadolu
Military and members of the Gendarmerie, a paramilitary police force, had come to remove the statue of Mahsum Korkmaz, the commander who led the first PKK attack in August 1984, the monument was inaugurated on 16 in a cemetery, also recently opened for PKK militants killed in combat, and a local court had ordered their withdrawal on 18 after receiving a complaint from the provincial governor.
When trying to remove the statue, military and police, backed by armored vehicles and helicopters, were attacked with homemade explosives, rifles and even rocket launchers, according to a statement from the Turkish army itself. Security forces responded with tear gas and live ammunition, according to witnesses quoted by local media, and two other protesters were injured, at least one of them also by several shots.
These two events come at a time when it seemed that the peace process between the PKK and the state would move forward. In fact, after the events of yesterday Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said in a televised interview that the government was working on a roadmap and the formation of a team to continue negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan, founder and leader of the PKK and prison since 1999.
In recent days, PKK militants are engaged in the fight against jihadist guerrillas of the Islamic State (EI) with Iraqi Kurdish forces, who also supported the United States bombing against EI.