One military police officer and two special unit police officers were killed on January 31st by armed members of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in the Cizre district of Şırnak province in Turkey’s southeast.
A round-the-clock curfew has been imposed in the district of Cizre since December 14, in an operation called “Jandarma Senior Sergeant Officer Martyr Burak Demirci Operation”, named after an officer killed in Cizre in early December. The operation is part of large scale government efforts across Turkey’s southeast to combat the PKK and its affiliates after armed groups created network of trenches and barricades; portioning off entire neighbourhoods under Kurdish self-rule.
The attacks on January 31 occurred during an operation formally tasked with the objectives of “filling up the trenches on the streets, removing the barricades, deactivating booby trap explosives, and rendering the PKK terrorists in the area ineffective.”
However, according to a statement released by the Şırnak Governorship, the operations on January 31 were additionally tasked with “finding the allegedly wounded civilians in the area and evacuating them to the hospital.”
The “allegedly wounded civilians” in the Şırnak Governorships statement was referencing the 28 civilians in Cizre’s Cudi neighbourhood who have been trapped in a building basement for ten days awaiting medical care. The circumstances surrounding the civilians entrapment remain unclear, with government sources claiming that attendant ambulances have been forced to turn away due to PKK gunfire, while HDP deputy Faysal Sarıyıldız and his contacts have claimed ambulances have been turned away by government armoured vehicles camped outside the building.
In an article concerning the attacks, Hürriyet newspaper claimed that the primary objective of the security force’s mission was to rescue the 28 wounded and trapped civilians with the title reading “Five security officials wounded in operation to rescue stranded civilians in Cizre.”
However, the circumstances surrounding the attack and its connections with the situation of the wounded civilians remain unclear. The 28 civilians are currently trapped in No. 23 building on Bostancı Avenue, and the attacks on the security forces occurred on Reyhan street according to Cumhuriyet newspaper, a little over half a kilometer from the wounded civilians on Bostancı Avenue.
Controversy and conflicting accounts of the situation in Cizre endure, and with round-the-clock curfews prohibiting journalists or external investigators from entering the region, seem unlikely to be resolved soon.