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Is Turkey heading toward civil war?

Following the deaths of 30 soldiers and police in PKK operations, a nationwide wave of attacks on Kurds has increased the risk of deepening ethnic strife and stoking renewed separatist sentiment.

The fierce conflict between the Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the 1990s claimed some 40,000 lives, but it never devolved into a Turkish-Kurdish civil war. Although a number of bloody incidents took place in residential areas of western Turkey where Kurdish minorities lived, they were quickly contained before they could spread.

The first sign that real Turkish-Kurdish strife is possible came in October 2014, during the deadly street protests referred to as the “Kobani unrest.” During Oct. 6-8, Kurds across Turkey took to the streets to protest the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which they held responsible for the siege of the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani by the Islamic State (IS). In ethnically mixed, Turkish-majority cities, such as Gaziantep, Turkish crowds confronted the demonstrators. In fact, clashes in Gaziantep claimed four lives. Deaths from the unrest, which spilled over to 35 cities, totaled 50, and thousands of public and residential buildings, businesses, schools and vehicles were vandalized or destroyed.

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