Turkish jets pound PKK in Iraq on day before election

Turkey’s military bombarded positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq on Saturday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The bombardment occurred the day before nationwide local elections in Turkey, which present the first opportunity for Turkey’s citizens to express their opinion about the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since he gained vast new powers last June.

Turkish fighter jets pounded Kandil mountain, the base of the PKK in Iraq, as well as in Hakurk and Avasin-Basyan, where the PKK was preparing to attack Turkish border troops, Anadolu said.

Sunday’s elections are occurring during a deep economic recession in the country. In his campaigning, Erdoğan has painted the main Kurdish political party as an ally of the PKK, an autonomy-seeking militant group recognised as terrorist by the United States and European Union.

The PKK has fought a four-decade war against the Turkish army at the cost of about 40,000 lives, most of them Kurdish. The PKK uses the heavily-fortified Kandil headquarters as an operations centre to plan its campaign in Turkey.

Citing the threat posed by the PKK, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has taken over many municipalities run by Kurdish politicians in the mainly-Kurdish southeast. Police and prosecutors have arrested scores of senior Kurdish figures in the past two years, action that the government says is needed to keep law and order and quash terrorism.

The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the most popular pro-Kurdish party, denies that it supports the PKK.