Angry mobs across Turkey attacked the over 100 offices of the left-wing, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Monday night, amid rising tensions between government troops and Kurdish militants.
The attacks were triggered by two incidents in the past week, with attacks from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels killing 16 Turkish soldiers Sunday and another 14 soldiers Tuesday.
In response, Turkish forces pounded PKK camps in aerial bombardments and sent ground troops into the northern Kurdistan region of Iraq, where the PKK have withdrawn to over the years.
At least 126 HDP offices were targeted Monday night, with protesters blaming the political party for the recent violence in the country between government troops and Kurdish rebels. The rioters threw stones, chanted slogans against the Kurds and in some instances climbed the HDP buildings, breaking windows and party signboards – nearby police reportedly refused to intervene.
Many Turks, including senior officials in the ruling AKP government, consider the HDP and the PKK to be one and the same, according to local news media.
However, the HDP has been a legitimate political party for over two years. In June, it won enough votes to gain seats in the Turkish parliament - the first time a political party sympathetic to the country's Kurdish minority group has been elected into government. The vote also cost President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government majority.
The Kurdish AFN News agency called Monday's attacks against HDP headquarters racially motivated, saying it was the act of “racist groups … still unable to accept the results of the June 7 elections.”
They also added that President Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu from the ruling AKP party have made numerous statements “provoking attacks of avenge against the party, as well as the Kurdish population in the country and the Kurdish armed movement, PKK.”
Peace negotiations between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July after it was revealed that the government was violating the terms of the negotiations. Violence escalated quickly in past months, with increased fighting both within the country and in Iraq where the Turkish government has carried out airstrikes against PKK camps, under the guise of trying to battle the Islamic State group in the region.
Several thousands of people took to the streets Monday in cities across the country to protest the recent violence, worried that it is on the brink of spiraling out of control.
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