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Turkey's internal Kurdish tensions flare

Deep-rooted strains between secular-nationalist Kurds and Islamist Kurds may reignite in the wake of the civil war in Iraq and Syria.
A boy holds the Kurdish PKK youth organization flag during the funeral of three Kurdish fighters killed during clashes against Islamic State in Syrian town of Kobani, at a cemetery in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province October 24, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (TURKEY - Tags: MILITARY CONFLICT POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4BHCQ

In the early hours of Dec. 27, armed clashes broke out in Cizre, a big town in Şırnak province in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. Three people were killed, while many homes were hit by bullets. One of the clashing parties was the YDHG, or the Patriotic Democratic Youth Movement, which is known as the youth organization of the armed and outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The other party was Huda-Par, a party established by Islamist Kurds. Both sides claimed that the other side attacked first.

This was yet another episode in the ongoing tension between the secular-nationalists and Islamists within Turkey’s Kurdish population, which constitutes roughly 15% of the 76-million-strong nation. The first group is represented by the PKK, which has led a guerrilla war against the Turkish state, at times with terrorist tactics, since 1984. The PKK also has political organizations and is implicitly represented by political parties, the latest of them being the People's Democracy Party (HDP). Its ideology has strong leftist, even Marxist tones, which is not readily welcome by the more Islamist or traditional segments of the Kurdish population.

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