ISTANBUL (AFP) – A Kurdish militant group on Sunday threatened to target dams harnessing hydroelectric power in southeastern Turkey, accusing the government of violating a fragile ceasefire.
The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) said in a statement quoted by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency that the building of the dams was aimed at displacing people and to help the Turkish military rather than creating energy.
Turkish forces and the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have largely observed a ceasefire since 2013 but tensions have flared again in the last months as the parties remain short of a final deal.
The KCK — considered the urban wing of the PKK — said it would use all means, including guerrilla attacks, to prevent the construction of dams.
“From now on, all the dams and vehicles used in the construction will be targeted by our guerrilla forces,” the KCK said, urging contractors involved in new projects to leave the areas.
The public “should know that our guerrilla forces will use their right of resistance against construction of dams and outposts for military purposes,” the statement added.
The KCK said that while it had demonstrated great responsibility in observing the ceasefire, the Turkish state had failed to observe the conditions of the truce.
It said there was no need to build additional hydroelectric dams in the region. Turkey argues the projects are needed to improve its energy self-sufficiency.
Kurds, widely seen as the world’s largest stateless people, are Turkey’s largest minority and the main group in the southeast of the country.
The PKK waged a decades-long insurgency for self-rule that claimed tens of thousands of lives but declared a truce in 2013 after the government opened secret peace negotiations with its jailed chief Abdullah Ocalan.
However Kurds have become increasingly frustrated with the government’s policy on Syria, as Ankara refuses to support the Kurdish groups fighting Islamic State (IS) jihadists inside Syria.
The tensions come as the main pro-Kurdish party in Turkey — the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — scored a breakthrough in June elections to take 80 seats in parliament.