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Turkish Parliament Seeks Probe of Alleged Army Abuse Against Nationalist Kurds


Turkey's ruling party on Tuesday backed opposition demands for a parliamentary inquiry into a bombing incident that was allegedly carried out by Turkish security forces. The bombing of a bookshop in the southeastern town of Semdinli, on November 9, has sparked violent protests throughout Turkey's predominantly Kurdish provinces.

Text: In its call for a parliamentary inquiry, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, described the bombing as a very serious event that begged many questions. Some AKP lawmakers say the bombing may have been carried out by rogue elements within the state, seeking to undermine Turkey's efforts to join the European Union.

The call came as over 1,000 Kurdish demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Yuksekova, north of Semdinli, to protest the November 9 blast. One demonstrator died when police opened fire on the crowd. Another died when a police vehicle was overturned during the clash.

Allegations that rogue elements in the security forces were involved in the bombing of the bookstore emerged after angry locals chased and tried to lynch three men suspected of planting the bomb that wounded more than a dozen people. The suspects turned out to be intelligence agents of the gendarmerie, or paramilitary police, that were accused of widespread human rights abuses against civilians at the height of a separatist Kurdish insurgency, led by the guerilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Two of the suspects, both members of the gendarmerie who claimed they happened to be at the site of the bombing by chance, were later released. The third, a civilian and a former PKK rebel turned police informant, was charged with involvement in the blast. A military sergeant who allegedly opened fire and killed a man in the crowd that attempted to lynch his colleagues, is facing separate charges of abuse of authority.

The commander in chief of the gendarmerie, General Fevzi Turkeri, has sought to play down the incident, saying it was a "local affair." But Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the assertion and has vowed to discover any links the suspects may have in the military's higher echelons, if they exist. Observers say the bombing is a test of the government's ability to bring the country's powerful army under civilian control, one of the conditions the EU says Turkey must fulfill if it is ever to join the EU.

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