Remains of woman killed in Southeast Turkey siege returned to family

The remains of a woman killed while sheltering in a basement during a Turkish military siege of the southeastern Kurdish-majority town of Cizre have been returned to her family by local authorities 21 months after she died, the pro-Kurdish news agency Mesopotamia said.

Evin Öz’s body had been buried in a cemetery for people of unknown identity, and it was only after a DNA match was found with family members that authorities were able to identify her, the agency said.

Nearly 260 people died during a 79-day 24-hour curfew in Cizre from December 2015 to March 2016 as part of an anti-terror operation against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the town, media quoted a member of parliament from the region as saying.

The basements of three buildings damaged by artillery and tank shells and filled with dozens of wounded became the focus of social and alternative media reports as ambulances did not arrive to take them to hospital. Authorities said they were PKK militants, but İdris Baluken, a parliamentarian from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) said they were “entirely civilian”.

State television said security forces had entered one of the basements, and “neutralised nearly 60 terrorists”, but later withdrew the news item.

Then-Interior Minister Efkan Ala announced that “Operations in Cizre have concluded with great success.”

Öz is due to be buried in the district of Nusaybin in the province of Mardin, Mesopotamia said.