A curfew that was imposed eight days ago in the restive soutehastern district of Cizre was lifted on Saturday morning with photos from the area revealing the intensity of clashes.
Hundreds of empty catridges scattered on the streets and devastated buildings were seen in initial photos from the district.
A curfew was imposed in Cizre on Sept. 4 as of 8 p.m. in what officials said to ensure security in the district in the wake of rising threat by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Residents ventured out to stock up on groceries and check on their shops after authorities lifted a nine-day round-the-clock curfew at 7 a.m.
There were still strict measures in main points of the district. Armoured vehicles prowled the streets of Cizre just north of the Syrian border and security forces set up checkpoints on the town’s outskirts. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) said 21 civilians were killed during the fight in Cizre, a town of more than 100,000 near the Iraqi and Syrian borders.
The government said one civilian and some 32 militants died.
“We suffered from hunger and thirst in our homes for eight days. It was like scenes from Iraq or Syria. We don’t deserve this,” said Haci, a labourer and father of three who spoke to Reuters by phone from Cizre. He did not want his last name to be published.
“We are caught in the crosshairs. We don’t know how many people died. People were unable to bury the dead.”
Meral Danış Beştaş, an HDP lawmaker who visited Cizre on Saturday, told Reuters: “People are still unable to hold funerals, as bodies are at the morgue. It’s not possible to say that life has returned to normal. Food is scarce and so are medical services.”
Security forces had barred Bestas and some 30 other MPs who attempted to walk to Cizre to protest the violence. “This was the state at war with its own citizens … People are traumatised, they spoke of their fear and anger,” she said.
Communications were restored on Saturday after the state suspended mobile-phone and internet services with the curfew. Long lines formed Cizre’s bakeries, and television footage showed bullet holes covering the facades of homes and the wreckage of vehicles strewn in the streets.
The curfew left residents living in dire conditions due to constant gunfire and explosions that have destroyed many homes in the district. According to media reports, heavy weapons were used in the fight between security forces and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists. In the district where gunfire was relentless, life completely came to a standstill.