May 24, 1993 PKK ambush

May 24, 1993 PKK ambush
May 24, 1993 PKK ambush
Part of Turkey-PKK conflict
Elazığ - Bingöl Turkey Provinces locator.png
Locations of Elazığ and Bingöl Turkey
Date May 24, 1993
Location Elazığ-Bingöl highway
Result Ambush successfull; end of first cease-fire
 Turkey Kurdistan Workers' Party
55 unarmed recruits[1][2] 150 militants[3]
Casualties and losses
33 killed[1]

22 captured[2]

5 civilians killed[1]

The May 24, 1993 PKK ambush on Turkish soldiers was carried out against unarmed Turkish military recruits on the Elazığ-Bingöl highway, killing 33 off-duty Turkish soldiers and 5 civilians and breaking the first ever PKK cease-fire with the Turkish government.[1][4] The attack had been ordered by Şemdin Sakık[5] and according to Abdullah Ocalan's testimony in 1999, it was carried out by a regional PKK commander.[6]



In late 1991, Turkish President Turgut Özal attempted to establish dialogue with the PKK. He had said a the idea of a federation could be discussed and a Kurdish language TV channel could be opened.[7] He also passed a bill, partially unbanning the use of the Kurdish language.[8] In response the PKK declared a cease-fire on March 20, 1993. However, after Turgut Özal's death on April 17, 1993, the government's pace in meeting the PKK's political demands were largely halted and the PKK decided to revert back to violence, breaking their cease-fire by launching the May 24 attack.[7][9]

The attack

On May 24, 1993 over 150 PKK militants,[3] coming from the South-Eastern mountains[1] blocked the Elazığ-Bingöl highway, stopping several busses transferring unarmed Turkish soldiers in civilian clothing and dragged[3] 33 soldiers and 5 civilians[1] from their vehicles and executed them.[3] Some 22 soldiers were briefly captured by the PKK, before being freed by Turkish rescue operations.[2] The military was criticized for the fact that the soldiers were unarmed and there were no units protecting them.[7]


The attack broke the PKK's cease-fire with the Turkish government[7] and in response to this, the Turkish military intensified it's anti-insurgency operations against the PKK during the following months.[1] A total of 92 Turkish security forces, 203 Kurdish rebels and 29 civilians were killed during anti-insurgency operations in May and June, an additional 120 Kurds were arrested during these operations.[2]


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