Turkey restores access to Cizre after week-long curfew lifted

Turkey on Saturday restored free access to the southeastern city of Cizre after lifting a week-long curfew that had raised fears of a humanitarian crisis, an AFP correspondent reported.

AFP| Updated: Sep 12, 2015, 14:33 PM IST

Ankara: Turkey on Saturday restored free access to the southeastern city of Cizre after lifting a week-long curfew that had raised fears of a humanitarian crisis.

People were being allowed to move in and out of the city despite continued army checks at roadblocks, said an AFP correspondent who entered the city after the curfew was lifted at 7:00 am (0400 GMT).

The government had said the curfew was necessary for a military "anti-terror" operation in the city against suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

But the pro-Kurdish Peoples` Democratic Party (HDP) has said 21 civilians were killed during the curfew, which deprived residents access to essential amenities and triggered food shortages.

The AFP correspondent found scenes of devastation inside Cizre, with several buildings destroyed and others pock-marked with bullet holes. 

Telephone and Internet communications were also severely limited.

Several people were seen entering the city -- largely to check up on residents inside -- but very few could be seen leaving. 

The length of the curfew in Cizre -- meaning that citizens were unable to move freely outside their homes for over a week -- also caused international concern.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, on Friday expressed alarm over the "very distressing information" from Cizre, urging that independent observers be allowed into the city.