Hundreds flee Diyarbakir as curfews lifted in southeast Turkey

Published February 3rd, 2016 - 03:30 GMT
A man leaves his house during a curfew in the Sur district of Diyarbakir on February 3, 2016. (AFP/Ilyas Akengin)
A man leaves his house during a curfew in the Sur district of Diyarbakir on February 3, 2016. (AFP/Ilyas Akengin)

Hundreds of people have fled Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey on Wednesday, after curfews were lifted, attempting to escape any further conflicts between Turkish military forces and Kurdish militants, Reuters reported.

A witness told Reuters that people left Diyarbakir's Sur district carrying suitcases, televisions, and carpets in pick-up trucks and carts, fleeing an area that has been heavily damaged by fighting since a curfew was imposed one month ago.

"It's always the ordinary people who suffer," said Mehmet Ceylan, 45, a resident. "I've lived in Sur for years, and I've never witnessed a scene like this."

Hundreds of militants and Turkish security force members have been killed in clashes since July, when a ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed. It set off the worst violence in Turkey in two decades, and dashed hopes for an end to the conflict which has killed more than 40,000 over the last 30 years.

The curfew was lifted in western areas of the Sur district, the chief district administrator's office said Wednesday. The eastern side remains under round-the-clock curfew.

Turkey has said that the curfews, in place in various cities throughout the southeast, are in place so police an rout out PKK militants, remove barricades, explosive devices, and ditches.

However, there are growing fears about wounded civilians trapped in cities under curfew in Turkey. The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) said it has not been able to communicate for three days with people trapped in a basement in the town of Cizre, which has been under curfew since mid-December.

The government denies that it is preventing ambulances from reaching wounded people trapped in the building, and has accused militants of attacking emergency workers.

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