turkey kurds kurdistan.jpg
Photograph: EPA/REFIK TEKIN

Following a series of bombings in Turkey and ahead of Kurdish New Year festivities, the umbrella group of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) issued a statement condemning attacks on civilians.

"The Kurdish freedom movement is opposed to attacks targeting civilians and condemns attacks on civilians," the statement said, noting that four people had died in a suicide bombing Saturday in Istanbul.

Security analysts have suggested the PKK and its splinter groups on the ground in Turkey operate as independent cells, with the leadership issuing general directives setting the tone.

While Islamic State is the main suspect in the Istanbul bombing that killed tourists, a Kurdish hardline nationalist group took responsibility for two car bombs in Ankara over the past month.

The first bomb largely hit a military target, although civilians were also killed. The second one a week ago killed 35 civilians, claimed by Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a shadowy group.

Some analysts see TAK as a splinter movement that is more hardline than the PKK, while others suspect that links to the main group exist.

The PKK, which Turkey and some other nations list as a terrorist group, has been fighting the state for more than 30 years, amid accusations that the government discriminates against the Kurdish minority.

The militant group has modified its demands and is no longer demanding separatism but autonomy.

The statement from the PKK, carried by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency, also condemned Turkey for allegedly killing civilians and said the group prefers peace to war but blamed the government for the collapse of peace talks.

The group, though its umbrella body, the Kurdistan Communities' Union (KCK), pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions on the rules of war.

Last July, a two-year ceasefire between the PKK and the state collapsed after peace negotiations stagnated. 

Many hundreds have died in the renewed conflict, mostly in the largely Kurdish south-east of the country, including civilians. There has been widescale destruction of neighbourhoods and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

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