Belgium: Police suspect PKK ran training camps

Belgium: Police suspect PKK ran training camps

Twenty two people were detained in the Belgian raids. 14 have seen been freed, and the eight remaining put under arrest. It is not clear if PKK leaders Zubeyir Aydar and Remzi Kartal are among those arrested.

The arrests followed a three-year investigation. The prosecution says there is strong evidence that the PKK recruited (mostly) Kurdish youth and sent them to training camps in Belgium, Germany and other Western European countries for indoctrination. They also received military training in Greece and in eastern and northern Iraq in order to later fight the Turkish policy and army forces. The PKK is also charged of counterfeiting identity documents and for collecting money using violence and threats.

A hundred Kurds surrounded the Roj TV building in Denderleeuw, and impeded the raid on the place. Several dozen managed to break in in the afternoon. One police agent was injured and taken to hospital. The police managed to arrest several others, who were freed after the building occupiers agreed to leave. A water cannon was later brought in to force the protesters out of the parking lot.

The police in Denderleeuw were particularly interested in the Mesopotamia radio broadcaster, which is part of Roj TV.

The PKK is calling all European Kurds to come to Brussels and demonstrate against the 'hostile attack' against them. The PKK said Belgium was using "state terror" aimed at "humiliating the Kurdish people".


Police sought out high-profile Kurds in Belgium on Thursday as part of a Europewide investigation and Turkish sources said 15 arrests included ex-lawmakers.

The raids followed an announcement by France on Wednesday that nine Kurds were charged with terror offences following their arrest last week for allegedly recruiting fighters for the PKK separatist group.

"An operation is under way in the Kurdish community across the whole country," Belgian federal prosecutors' spokeswoman Lieve Pellens told AFP. The operation is not finished, she added, promising more details later.

The Firat news agency, which is close to the PKK, reported that those detained included Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar, top figures coordinating PKK activities in Europe. Both are former Turkish parliament members.

"I'd like to congratulate the Belgian authorities... We appreciate their determination and sense of responsibility," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters.

"This action by Belgium, following (similar operations in) Italy and France, carries a very strong message to groups and organisations providing financial resources for terrorist activities," he said.

In October, the US Treasury Department put Aydar on a list of "significant" foreign drug traffickers, along with two other PKK leaders, saying that they were using drug smuggling to help fund the PKK.

Belgian public radio RTBF said some 300 officers took part in raids in Brussels, Antwerp and other Belgian cities, including at the offices of Kurdish international TV station Roj TV in Denderleeuw.


Sources: Expatica 1, 2 (English), HLN 1, 2 (Dutch)

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