|May 24, 1993 PKK ambush|
|Part of Kurdish–Turkish conflict|
Locations of Elazığ and Bingöl Turkey
|Turkey||Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|5 civilians killed|
The May 24, 1993 PKK ambush on Turkish soldiers was carried out against unarmed Turkish military recruits on the Elazığ-Bingöl highway, killing 33 off-duty Turkish soldiers and 5 civilians and breaking the first ever Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) cease-fire with the Turkish government. The attack had been ordered by Şemdin Sakık and according to Abdullah Öcalan's testimony in 1999, it was carried out by a regional PKK commander.
In late 1991, Turkish President Turgut Özal attempted to establish dialogue with the PKK. He had said the idea of a federation could be discussed and a Kurdish language TV channel could be opened. He also passed a bill, partially unbanning the use of the Kurdish language. In response the PKK declared a cease-fire on March 20, 1993. However, after Turgut Özal's death on April 17, 1993, the government's pace in meeting the PKK's political demands were largely halted and on May 19, when about a dozen rebels operating Şemdin Sakık were killed in an attack by the military in the town of Kulp, he sent a letter to Abdullah Öcalan claiming that the rebels were losing respect due to the cease-fire. Öcalan responded by saying that they were allowed to defend themselves.
Sakık decided to respond with a show of force and ordered PKK units in Diyarbakır to close down all main highways in the province and nearby on May 24. One of these roads was the Elazığ-Bingöl highway which was attacked by over 150 PKK militants, coming from the South-Eastern mountains. The fighters were ordered to kill any state employees they found. The PKK stopped several buses that were transferring unarmed Turkish soldiers in civilian clothing and then dragged 33 soldiers and 5 civilians (including four teachers) from their vehicles and executed them. Some 22 soldiers were briefly captured by the PKK, before being freed by Turkish rescue operations. The military was criticized for the fact that the soldiers were unarmed and there were no units protecting them.
The attack broke the PKK's cease-fire with the Turkish government and in response to this, the Turkish military intensified its anti-insurgency operations against the PKK during the following months. A total of 92 Turkish security forces, 203 Kurdish rebels and 29 civilians were killed during anti-insurgency operations in May and June, an additional 120 Kurds were arrested during these operations. Kucuk Zeki, the PKK's commander in Muş at the time, described the attack as a turning point in the conflict, as the state stepped up its operations against the PKK and "the war got much worse".
- MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993
- Kurds in Turkey (page 11)
- TURKEY HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993
- PKK has repeatedly asked for a ceasefire of peace since their establishment in the past 17 years
- Timeline Kurdistan
- History of PKK in Turkey
- Kurdish Language Policy in Turkey
- Left Wing Monster: Abdullah Ocalan
- Page 214
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