Close to 90 people were killed and nearly 220 were wounded in more than 60 attacks staged by the PKK last year.
By Svetla Dimitrova for Southeast European Times in Sofia -- 08/08/12
The Turkish honour guard carries the flag-draped coffin of Turkish soldier Yunus Yilmaz during a funeral ceremony in Ankara October 20th 2011. [Reuters]
In its report on terrorism in 2011, the US Department of State designated 49 groups as Foreign Terrorist Organisations and noted terrorism-related attacks in Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Greece and Kosovo.
Among the designated terrorist groups in Turkey, the report listed the Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), and Turkish Hezbollah (unrelated to the Lebanese Hizbullah). The report also mentioned the detention by the Turkish authorities of members of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and supporters of al-Qaeda and other militant groups.
According to the report, the PKK currently numbers approximately 4,000 to 5,000 fighters.
"The PKK remained active in 2011, with approximately 61 credited attacks," the State Department said. "At least 88 people were killed in the attacks and 216 wounded."
According to the report, Turkey's counterterrorism efforts remained focused on dealing with the internal threat posed by militant groups, including the PKK.
"Efforts to combat international terrorism are hampered by legislation that defines terrorism narrowly as a crime targeting the Turkish state or Turkish citizens," the report said. "A draft law before parliament on the Prevention of Terrorist Financing was initially intended to address the definitional issue; however, according to the Financial Action Task Force, the current draft is insufficient to bring this and other areas of terrorist finance legislation up to international standards."
The report stated that Turkish authorities used the country's counterterrorism legislation "overly broadly to stifle political discourse," noting that hundreds of people were arrested last year for crimes under Turkey's terrorism laws.
The report also covered the situation in four other Southeast European countries -- BiH, Greece, Kosovo and Serbia.
The country report on BiH listed two terrorist incidents in 2011, one of which was a car bombing against political representatives of the Croatian Democratic Union of BiH in April. While nobody was injured in the attack, a local police officer was wounded in late October, when Mevlid Jasarevic, a Serbian citizen, allegedly opened fire on the US embassy in Sarajevo.
The Belgrade daily Blic reported this week that Senad Dupovac, Jasarevic's attorney, was offered a plea arrangement by BiH authorities. The prosecutor in the case, Dubravko Campara, denied the report.
While noting that BiH's regional co-operation with Croatia and Serbia improved, the state department said that its counterterrorism efforts have produced "mixed results," citing the "fragmented nature" of the Balkan country's security and police sectors.
The day following the attack on the US embassy in Sarajevo, Serbian authorities took 17 people into custody with suspected ties to Jasarevic, the country report on Serbia noted.
It praised the Belgrade authorities for their sustained efforts in the fight against international terrorism and improved co-operation between the country's law enforcement and security agencies.
As Serbia does not recognise Kosovo's independence, EULEX played an intermediary role in law enforcement co-operation between Belgrade and Pristina.
The US report said that Kosovo needs to make further efforts to enhance intradepartmental co-operation to strengthen the control of the country's borders. The department of counterterrorism, which had "a good working and information sharing relationship with regional partners and the US government," should build closer ties with the relevant government agencies and the religious groups in the country.
The report on Greece noted that in 2011 the number of domestic terrorist incidents had dropped significantly. Police "made major arrests" within the two most active local terrorist groups, Revolutionary Struggle and Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, while a third one, the Sect of Revolutionaries, did not claim responsibility for any attacks last year.