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  • Turkish police stand guard at one of the entrances of Sur district, which is partially under curfew, in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

    Turkish police stand guard at one of the entrances of Sur district, which is partially under curfew, in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 February 2016

State television reported that 60 civilians had died in an operation, but later retracted the claim.

An unknown number of Kurds were killed in Cizre by Turkish forces, with state media reporting retracting the claim that “some 60 terrorists (were) neutralized” Sunday.

Other local sources report that tens of civilians died in a “massacre.”

Dozens wounded from previous clashes in Cizre, which has been under siege for 66 days, have been stuck in a basement for over two weeks. The wounded were waiting in the building for medical help, but state forces cut off access. The last contact with them was 10 days ago.

Medics, politicians and journalists have been blocked from the area where the operation was believed to be held, with Kurdish media claiming that state forces were opening random fire to create the appearance of a stand-off with the PKK, a Kurdish guerrilla group. Two blasts were heard Sunday evening, but Turkish media is reporting heavy clashes.

The Cizre state hospital is reportedly on lockdown.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday that initial reports of casualties were not official, and that “God willing” the operation in Cizre would end soon.

Since the initial news was reported, the local governor confirmed 10 deaths, the Kurdish HDP party reported 30 burned alive and the state news agency Anadolu Ajansi reported 18 people confirmed killed. Turkey broke a cease-fire with the PKK, which it calls a terrorist group, in August and imposed sieges and curfews across its largely Kurdish southeast.

The latest death toll is 224 civilians killed in the predominantly Kurdish region of the country since August, according to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned reports that no ambulances were sent, claiming that if they are not bringing away the wounded, “maybe they aren't wounded.”

Pictures emerged on social media of some of civilians trapped in two basements, one of them burnt and others covered in ash. Nine people reportedly died in a fire and six from loss of blood.

A representative for the province of Faysal Faysal Sarıyıldız from HDP, the pro-Kurdish leftist political party, said that he received a text message from assembly member Mehmet Yavuzer, one of the wounded, reading: "I will kill myself. It is enough now. I don't want to hear any more screams for water. I don't want anyone to call me anymore. Water, comrade, just water."

Protests have been scheduled around the Kurdish region and Europe, with protesters in Paris and Erbil reporting clashes with the police. The Kurdish parties HDP and DBP called for all-out resistance to violence from the Turkish forces, warning that they may execute more massacres.

Mothers of the victims told ANF, "the state should fear Kurdish mothers." They also said, "you cannot exterminate Kurdish people with these massacres; you only increase the pain."

Women from the Peace Mothers group held a hunger strike at the United Nations building in Ankara demanding that the wounded in Cizre be released. Member of Parliament Sarıyıldız wrote a letter last week to the United Nations demanding action, but officials responded it was not “currently possible to satisfy this demand.”

The Turkish constitutional court also declined to act, so activists are planning to apply for help from the European Court of Human Rights.

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