A roadside bomb attack killed nine people traveling aboard a minibus on Thursday in the latest violence to shake Turkey’s turbulent southeast, where Kurdish guerrillas have been fighting for autonomy for decades, authorities said.
Turkish troops launched a manhunt for those believed to be behind the attack, which also injured four people including a 15—month—old baby near the village of Gecitli in the rugged Hakkari province bordering Iran and Iraq, Hakkari Gov. Muammer Guler said.
A brief scuffle broke out between Kurdish villagers and soldiers arrived to investigate, after some villagers allegedly refused to hand over a bag they found, CNN—Turk television said. Soldiers could be seen firing shots into the air while a youth was shown throwing a rock at troops.
Kurdish rebels have targeted military vehicles with improvised explosive devices, with the latest such attack on Wednesday in Hakkari province. There have also been several other attacks on police over the past week, which would violate a cease—fire the rebels declared before a religious holiday as a pro—Kurdish party called on the government to open dialogue with rebels for a peaceful solution.
On Tuesday, thousands of Kurds attended a funeral for one of nine Kurdish rebels killed in a clash in Hakkari last week. Youths at the funeral threw stones at police, but dispersed after the region’s Kurdish mayor intervened, the Anatolia news agency reported.
The pro—Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party boycotted a referendum on Sunday over the constitution, arguing that ethnic Kurdish identity was not fully recognized by the state.
The party is now calling for a five—day boycott of schools when they open on Sept. 20 to force the government into allowing Kurdish—language education for Kurdish children. The party’s leader, Selahattin Demirtas, has said he will not send his daughter to school on Monday, prompting an angry reaction from the Education Minister Nimet Cubukcu who accused the politician of “using children for political aims” and said legal action would be taken against the parents.
Teaching in schools is in Turkish, although Turkey recently took steps toward wider Kurdish—language education by allowing the opening of Kurdish—language institutes and Kurdish courses at universities.
The rebels have been fighting for autonomy in the country’s Kurdish—dominated southeast since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.