The Turkish government has fired more than two dozen local mayors in the mainly Kurdish-populated southeast of the country over suspected links to a banned pro-Kurdish militant group.
On Sunday, Ankara dismissed 28 mayors, who mostly belonged to the opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) and were suspected of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
A similar measure had been taken on Thursday, when Ankara suspended about 11,500 teachers over suspected links to the PKK militant group. The Anadolu state news agency said the Education Ministry suspected that the teachers had been involved in activities “in support of the separatist terrorist organization and its affiliates,” in an apparent reference to the PKK.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the huge military campaign against the PKK militant group, which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy for three decades, was Turkey’s largest ever in its history, and that the removal of civil servants linked to the militant group was a necessary part of the fight.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s military says it has killed thousands of PKK militants in military operations in the southeast last year.
Ankara had already axed about 100,000 public servants and military personnel over alleged links to US-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a failed coup on July 15, 2016.
Turkey has also launched a military incursion into neighboring Syria in a declared attempt against Kurdish groups there.
Ankara says Turkey’s military offensive in Syrian territory is not only aimed at eliminating the Kurds but also members of the Takfiri Daesh militant group.