Kurdish rebels in Iraq declare Ramadan cease-fire

Kurdish rebels fighting Turkey from bases in northern Iraq declared a unilateral cease-fire for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Updated: Aug 14, 2010, 11:10 AM IST

Qandil Mountains (Iraq): Kurdish rebels fighting Turkey from bases in northern Iraq declared a unilateral cease-fire for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The rebels belonging to the Kurdistan Workers` Party, or PKK, have staged hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets in their decades-long campaign for autonomy in Turkey`s Kurdish-dominated southeast. Similar announcements by rebels in the past have failed to open the way to a lasting peace.

One of the group`s leaders, Bouzan Teken, told reporters that the PKK`s fighters will "cease all their military operations inside Turkey" but will defend themselves if attacked.

The cease-fire will last from Friday until Sept 20 to coincide with the period in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, he said, speaking alongside two other prominent PKK leaders at a news conference in the Qandil Mountains where the rebels operate near Iraq`s border with Iran.

The rebels also demanded that Ankara release 1,700 Kurdish politicians they said were detained in Turkish prisons, Teken said.

Turkey, which has ignored a series of PKK cease-fire declarations in the past, had no direct comment on the latest announcement.

Late yesterday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he hoped Ramadan would give militants a chance to change their ways, and he declared the country would not give in to "terror."

Labelled terrorists by Turkey and the West, the rebels have intensified attacks since June, saying the government has rejected their calls for a dialogue.

Bureau Report