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Iran Press TV

Erdogan accuses Gulen of aiding PKK attacks in Turkey

Iran Press TV

Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:40PM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the supporters of US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen of aiding Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in conducting new attacks in southeastern Turkey.

"You don't have to be fortune teller to see that the the Gulen movement is behind the latest PKK attacks in terms of sharing information and intelligence," Erdogan said on Thursday.

Erdogan's comments came hours after a PKK roadside bombing targeting a military vehicle near Gayda village in the Hizan district of Bitlis province killed five soldiers and wounded six others. Another soldier was killed in clashes with militants in the rural areas of Nazar village in the same area.

Hours earlier, six people lost their lives and more than 250 others sustained injuries in two separate car bomb blasts hitting police stations in the city of Elazig in Eastern Anatolia and in another town in the province of Van.

"I personally asked Obama to extradite Gulen a year ago. I have asked him again after the latest events," Erdogan further said, adding, "Things are moving in a different direction in our country, and a strategic partner should not make its partner's work harder."

Washington has so far refused to extradite Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the mid-July botched military coup in the country, saying it needs evidence of his involvement in the failed putsch.

At least 246 people were killed and more than 2,100 others sustained injuries when an army faction, using hijacked helicopters and tanks, clashed with government troops and people on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul on July 15 in an attempt to overthrow Erdogan.

Ankara blames Gulen for orchestrating the coup, an allegation Gulen has repeatedly dismissed and warned that the blame game could be a ploy by the ruling Justice and Development Party to cement its grip on power.

On Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced on national television that over 40,000 people had so far been detained in connection with the abortive coup, of whom 20,355 had been formally arrested.

Yildirim added that 79,900 people had also been removed from public duty in the military, police, civil service and judiciary.

Ankara has additionally shut several thousand companies and institutions suspected of having financed Gulen.

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