By Fecri Barlik
SIIRT, Turkey (AA) - The PKK terrorist group’s decades-old armed campaign which targeted politicians and civilians, including women, children, infants, and the elderly, leaving behind thousands of casualties and shattered lives, remains vivid in people’s memories.
It has been now 35 years since the PKK conducted its first attacks in Eruh in the southeastern Siirt province and in Semdinli in the southeastern Hakkari province under its now-imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who has been the sole inmate of an island prison off Istanbul since his capture in 1999.
These attacks on Aug. 15, 1984, martyring a soldier named Suleyman Aydin and injuring nine soldiers and three civilians, made the PKK infamous.
"That night, we were sitting in the town center when we suddenly heard the gunshots. At first we couldn’t figure out what happened," Cevher Ciftci, who was 17 years old when he witnessed the attack and is now the mayor of Sirrt’s Eruh district, told Anadolu Agency.
“We only realized that it was a terror attack after the terrorists broadcast over the mosque speakers. Before that, we had been living in peace."
In the decades since, the terror group tried to undermine peace and security in rural areas and also took its bloody attacks to city centers.
It not only targeted security forces but also civilians, including students, teachers, and medical personnel.
"So many families were destroyed, people were forced to leave their homes, and we have martyrs," said Murtaza Dayanc, a local official in Eruh.
“We have suffered a lot here. As a result, the region has become one of Turkey's most deprived places.”
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including many women, children and infants.