Terrorists threaten to hit Turkey's tourist hotspots
Published 19/07/2010 | 05:00
Turkey has been threatened with a new terrorist campaign of "torture and massacre" at tourist resorts as the holiday season gets under way.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group, has said it plans a wave of violence after the breakdown of a year-long ceasefire. It will target major Turkish cities, rather than just army patrols and bases in the Kurdish heartlands. These are likely to include towns and cities in western Turkey, including those popular with tourists and businessmen.
A triple bombing struck the resort of Marmaris in 2006, while a year later a suicide bomber targeted a shopping street in the capital, Ankara.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs last night said that normal guidelines were in place concerning travel but that they would be under review were the situation to change.
Some 2.5 million British tourists visit Turkey each year. The UK Foreign Office advised "against all but essential travel" to the south-east of Turkey due to the "high threat from terrorism".
A spokesman said yesterday: "Terrorist attacks have also taken place against government and civilian targets in cities such as Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara, and tourist resorts on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts."
Murat Karayilan, the senior commander of the PKK, said he was left with no choice but to act after Turkish bombing raids on his group's bases. He said the PKK would soon declare "democratic autonomy" in Kurdish regions of south-east Turkey.
The war between the Turkish government and the PKK, which has lasted 26 years and claimed 40,000 lives, has moved into a new phase after the collapse of a ceasefire. Prime minister Recip Erdogan ordered the bombing raids on PKK bases in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Despite the raids and the weight of one of Nato's largest armies ranged against him, Mr Karayilan said his forces could keep up the struggle. "We are deeply rooted in the mountains and hearts of the people of Kurdistan," he said. "We are able to live another 50 years like this."
Mr Erdogan's strategy is to improve ties with its neighbours to the east and squeeze out opposition from the Kurds.
Analysts said the threats promised a major escalation of the conflict. "You will see that Kurds will respond with support" a spokesman said.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)