Residents of the southeastern Turkish city of Cizre are emerging to scenes of destruction after authorities lifted a nine-day curfew imposed for an operation against Kurdish militants.
Life began returning to normal in the city, which was completely out of touch with the rest of the world for more than a week as Turkish security forces confronted the PKK’s armed youth groups who had taken over the town.
A VOA Turkish reporter visiting Cizre on Saturday saw houses and vehicles riddled with bullet holes and hundreds of empty shells scattered on every corner.
Bombed-out buildings mark every street of the city, near Turkey's border with Iraq and Syria.
Some townspeople claim up to 25 civilians, including women and children, were killed during the weeklong fight. Their versions have not been confirmed by official accounts.
In the early hours after the lifting of the curfew, the town was quiet, but frustration was evident on the faces of those who came out to streets.
Turan Oytun showed VOA his house, while his wife, Saliha, cried in the kitchen, asking: “What have we done to them?”
The refrigerator was full of bullet holes, and other appliances were destroyed.
“We have been in here for nine days," Oytun said. "There were 23 people hiding here. We neither had food nor electricity.”
The rebels apparently dug holes between houses, to provide residents safe passage from the security forces firing at them.
Trenches in the streets are now filled with water because the explosions left water pipes damaged in some areas. Most of the town was left without water and electricity for days; homes with water service kept their taps running the whole time to share water with neighbors.
The Internet and mobile phone lines were down for more than a week, leaving the town cut off from the rest of the world.
The security forces surrounding the town had allowed no one in or out, including parliament members from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party.
Kurdish politicians who managed to get to the town after the blockade said it was too early to talk about casualty numbers.
More photos from A VOA reporter who visited the town of Cizre the day an eight-day curfew was lifted: