ANKARA (BNO NEWS) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday apologized on behalf of the Turkish state for the killings of more than 13,000 Kurds in the late 1930s, local media reported.
Erdoğan, the first Turkish leader to apologize for the killings, showed documents dated August 1939 which stated that operations had killed over 13,000 people between 1936 and 1939. The killings occurred during a crackdown by the Turkish military on a Kurdish rebellion in Dersim, which is now called Tunceli province.
The premier further defined the Dersim killings as "the most tragic incident of our near past," the Hurriyet newspaper reported on its website.
The Turkish government is currently also fighting against Kurdish rebels led by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Prime Minister Erdoğan has called on Turkish Kurds to fight off the PKK, which has increased its attacks in the past few months.
Throughout the year, Turkey has carried out air strikes against suspected PKK targets in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish area and in southeastern Turkey. Suspected PKK rebels have killed more than 65 Turkish soldiers since July.
The PKK, which has been labeled as a terrorist organizations by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, was established in 1984 in its efforts to establish the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey as an autonomous Kurdish state.
Over 40,000 soldiers and civilians have been killed in violent clashes since the group took arms. The PKK maintains its military bases across the Iraqi border.
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