Kurdish Child killed in explosion near Turkish base


A Kurdish child was killed and five others were injured in the Özalp district in Van near a Turkish military base. Initial reports explained that the children were playing near ammunition and other materials when the explosion occured. However, an eyewitness has come forward and told police that the explosion occurred when a Turkish soldier threw a hand grenade where the children were playing. According to the eyewitness, the Turkish soldier fled the scene after the explosion.

The 13-year old, Olcay Akyurek, was rushed to the hospital immediately after the explosion but he could not be saved. The other children – Nurullah Ercicek, 9, Orhan Ercicek, 11, Yunus Yaman, 13, Dogukan Mese 12, and Fidan Cosar, 9 – sustained injuries but are recovering at the Özalp State Hospital.

According to initial reports, the children were playing in an area outside the military base when they discovered ammunition outside the fence of a shooting range. The explosion, according to the reports, occurred when a bomb was set off; although reports did not indicate how this may have happened. An eyewitness later told police that a soldier threw a grenade in the direction of the children who were playing with a ball. According to the eyewitness, the soldier who threw the grenade quickly fled the scene at the time of the explosion.

Van and the surrounding Kurdish regions of Turkey have been the scenes of armed conflict between the Turkish military and Kurdish rebels. Military bases near resident districts such as Özalp are particularly common in the Kurdish region of Turkey. In the past, several accounts have arisen in which residents in Özalp have complained of the soldiers causing tension.

A group of approximately 500 people demonstrated after the incident involving the children and marched to the Özalp office of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP.

The Van Governor’s Office announced this week that an investigation has been launched into the incident.