The number of attacks by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) targeting police stations and officers has increased significantly following an announcement by the government in August that the police force will be utilized more effectively in the fight against terrorism and that the military would concentrate more on international threats.
Terrorism experts say the main reason behind the PKK's attacks on the heels of statements from government officials about the police force becoming more actively involved in combating terrorism instead of relying on military units reflects a failure by the government to effectively implement the announced plan and a lack of appropriate steps being taken to restructure the police force to enable them to start fighting terrorists.
Over the past two weeks the PKK has staged eight attacks targeting police facilities or police officers.
Terrorism expert Emre Uslu said Turkey has no more time to waste with declarations and initiatives or hollow statements prepared in back offices. “The police have hit a nerve with the PKK and the police operations into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) [an umbrella organization that brings together PKK affiliated groups]. The police force should start actively and immediately fighting terrorism. I can't overemphasize this; Today the PKK is ahead of the National Intelligence Organization [MİT] and the General Staff in terms of strategy,” said Uslu.
According to Uslu, police have to be involved in counterterrorism operations more efficiently, or else the PKK will continue its attacks to try to discourage police. “The PKK thinks it will scare off the police with its latest attacks, yet they are wrong in this thinking. The police are not like an army; the police are more professional and won't be daunted by such attacks. Terrorists cannot scare police off and make them leave like they did to doctors and teachers assigned to the southeastern provinces,” said Uslu.
Dr. Önder Aytaç, an expert in terrorism, said that since the police operate from established locations they are more likely to be sitting targets for PKK attacks. “Police can be openly targeted because their locations are defined. Thus security measures should be taken more effectively. Intelligence information must be gathered before any possible terrorist attacks,” said Aytaç.