CIZRE: Residents of the Turkish southeastern city of Cizre on Saturday emerged to find scenes of destruction and despair after authorities lifted a nine-day curfew imposed for an operation against Kurdish militants.
A correspondent found several buildings had been destroyed and others pock-marked with bullet holes during the curfew, which took effect late on September 4.
People were being allowed to move in and out of Cizre despite continued army checks at roadblocks, said the correspondent who entered the city after the restriction ended 7am.
The government had said the curfew was necessary for a military “anti-terror” operation in the city against suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
But the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has said over 20 civilians were killed during the operation, which deprived residents of access to essential amenities and triggered food shortages.
Telephone and Internet communications were still severely limited as residents ventured outside for the first time to inspect the extent of the damage. “Our children were dying of fear,” said Mehmet Guler, a local official.
During the curfew, outsiders had not been allowed to enter Cizre, in what Kurdish activists termed a blockade akin to Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.
“There is no water, electricity and our provisions are running out,” Guler added, saying that even the call to prayer had stopped for the duration of the curfew.
The remnants of the fighting were still apparent in Cizre, with barricades and trenches blocking streets scattered with empty shell casings and the wrecks of burned-out cars.The length of the curfew in Cizre — meaning that citizens were unable to move freely outside their homes for over a week — also caused international concern.