Death toll rises among Kurds trapped in basement amid heavy fighting

2016-01-28 20:26
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Istanbul - More than 20 injured people remained trapped in a basement in Cizre, a Kurdish town in south-east Turkey, where fighting has been raging since last month, while six of those pinned down have died, an official said on Thursday.

The people have been trapped since Saturday with the death toll rising almost daily, Faysal Sariyildiz, a member of parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) told dpa by phone from Cizre.

Sariyildiz said ambulances had been organized on Wednesday to evacuate the people but the army intervened and denied them access.

The Health Ministry says the ambulances were unable to proceed because of attacks by the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Cizre has been under curfew for the past six weeks, which human rights groups have condemned, saying civilians are cut off from medicine, water and electricity. State security forces are battling groups affiliated with the PKK.

"The wounded are confined in a tight space along with those who have died," Sariyildiz said, adding that he was in contact with those trapped through text messages.

A two-year ceasefire between the state and the PKK broke down in July after peace talks stagnated.

The war has claimed more than 40 000 lives since the 1980s. Kurds in Turkey have long complained of systemic discrimination while the government says the PKK is a terrorist group.

In the past six months, at least 243 security forces have been killed while the PKK has confirmed 257 fighters died, according to data from the International Crisis Group.

The HDP says about 200 civilians have also been killed, the majority of them in the past six weeks, since the military stepped up operations.

More people have been reported killed, but their affiliation is unclear.

The European Union has called for an "immediate ceasefire" and a return to negotiations. The Turkish government, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says it will never again negotiate with the PKK.

Read more on:    turkey

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