Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again warned he could take action
against Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq if U.S. forces did not stop the rebels infiltrating
across the border into Turkey. "At the moment, frankly speaking, we do not
see the efforts by the U.S. that we expect to see. We have expressed our views
to that effect to the Americans," Erdogan said in an interview yesterday
with Britain's Times newspaper. "There is a time limit. There is a limit
to our tolerance," said Erdogan.
He said Turkey was within its rights under international law to defend itself
from attack and drew a comparison with U.S. action against Afghanistan after
the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"That mandate is provided for in international law,"he said.
"If a country, if a people, if a nation are under threat, that country
can do what is necessary under international law ... we would exercise that
right in the same way as any other country could, would and did exercise that
Turkey has blamed the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for a rash of violence
in the southeast of the country and says the guerrillas use bases in northern
Iraq as a launch pad for attacks.
In the latest act of Kurdish insurgency, Turkish officials said Kurdish guerrillas
have kidnapped the mayor of a town in eastern Turkey .
Hasim Akyurek, mayor of Yayladere in the Bingol Province and a member of Turkey's
ruling Justice and Development Party, was abducted Wednesday while on his way
to inspect preparations for a local festival, the officials said.
The rebels stopped Akyurek, and a man traveling with him, said Bilge Eren,
an official from the mayor's office.
The second man, Zulfu Coban, who was visiting from Germany, was released late
at night and told Turkish security officials that they were kidnapped by members
of the autonomy-seeking PKK, Eren said.
Turkish soldiers backed by helicopters were searching the area for the mayor,
the Anatolia news agency reported.
Despite a lull in violence after the capture of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan
in 1999, fighting has increased sharply since the group called off a unilateral
cease-fire last year.
The PKK has waged an armed campaign for an independent Kurdish homeland in
southeast Turkey since 1984, and more than 30,000 people have been killed in
Turkey has vowed never to negotiate with the PKK and together with the United
States and the European Union brands the group as a "terrorist organization."