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Oct 12 2018

Turkey gives firearms licenses to village guards

Turkey’s village guards, a paramilitary group recruited from pro-government Kurds to aid military operations of the security forces in mainly Kurdish populated cities, will be able to obtain firearms licenses, Turkish new site Diken said on Friday.

The village guards, even the retired ones, will be able to apply for a license to carry firearms off duty by the reason of "security of life", Diken added.

The village guards have been deployed since 1985 in the fight against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group which Turkey considers as a terrorist organisation, to help the security forces in the countryside.

During the four-decade insurgency between the Turkish army and the PKK, village guards provided intelligence against the Kurdish militia and joined operations with the Turkish army. Thus, they are in the target list; several village guards were punished or killed by the PKK.

After the two-and-a-half year ceasefire between the state and the PKK broke down in July 2015, the government has made fundamental changes in the structure of the village guards. The guards were given per diems, bonuses and operation compensation. Their retirement age was lowered to 45 in an attempt to replace older fighters with younger guards.

The Interior Ministry issued new high-security identity cards and distributed more than 1,500 mobile phones to them. Their salaries were indexed to that of civil servants.

 

But some village guards involved in crimes. The Interior Ministry has declared on Thursday that some 635 guard villagers were fired due to their involvement to "terrorist organisations", drug trafficking and human smuggling activities, Turkish news site Sol said.

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