A military vehicle transporting soldiers to Şırnak's Uludere district to provide additional security for former Democratic Society Party (DTP) Chairman Ahmet Türk's visit to the district rolled on Tuesday, killing 10.
A number of soldiers had been sent to Gülyazı village, Uludere, to provide additional security for Türk's visit. The vehicle, carrying 18 soldiers, rolled into a drainage ditch along the main road into the village, just 200 meters outside the village.
Nine soldiers and the driver of the vehicle died in the accident, while the other nine soldiers are reported to have been seriously wounded. Villagers who witnessed the accident provided first aid to the injured before they were transferred to the Şırnak Military Hospital by the Gülyazı Border Brigade.
According to the most recent reports, the injured soldiers remain in critical condition.
Türk had been scheduled to visit the families of villagers killed on Dec. 28, 2011, when Turkish fighter jets mistook groups of villagers for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists near the Turkish-Iraqi border. The tragedy sparked outrage in Turkey as 34 civilians were killed in the incident.
Land mine blast victims laid to rest
Funeral services were held on Tuesday in the hometowns of two Turkish gendarmerie sergeants who were killed when a land mine, believed to have been planted by the terrorist PKK, detonated along the Hakkari-Van highway on Monday.
Specially trained members of the gendarmerie forces were sent to the area to engage the terrorists. The highway was closed to traffic for several hours out of fear that additional land mines could have been deployed. Military sources said an air-backed operation was launched in the area to detain the fleeing terrorists. Fighter jets shelled some of the mountainous areas of Hakkari. Fifteen PKK terrorists were killed by Turkish security forces, according to a military statement. Security forces also seized a number of weapons and explosives belonging to the terrorist group.
Monday's attack came on the second day of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day religious holiday following the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The family members of Mehmet Can, one of the slain gendarmes, are reportedly distraught, with Can's mother, Hatice, having been hospitalized. His father, Zeki, told reporters that he had talked to his son on the phone only two days ago. “He told me that he was doing well,” he said. “I could not congratulate my son's Eid al-Fitr -- that's what I am most sad about. But there is nothing to do about it now,” he added. Can's funeral took place following the mid-afternoon prayer and he was buried later on Tuesday in his hometown of Gaziantep.
The other gendarme killed in Hakkari, Yusuf Seyhan, was buried in his hometown of Hatay following a ceremony at the Hatay Provincial Gendarmerie Command. Gül Seyhan, wife of the slain gendarme, wept while embracing her husband's Turkish flag-covered coffin at the ceremony. News reports say Seyhan had just over a year left before his retirement. Many politicians and military officers attended the funerals of both gendarmes.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US, has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey's Southeast since 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed to date in the decades-long conflict.