PKK suspect arrested before attempting to burn forest in Turkey

Police said on Sunday that a suspect, who was ordered to burn down a forest in southern Turkey by the PKK terror group, had been captured. The suspect, identified as AK, was arrested in Antalya where he was to commit the crime.

The suspect was under surveillance for his involvement in PKK propaganda and a report to the police that he was trying to obtain sulfuric acid and planning an attack. AK, who arrived in the Mediterranean province from the central province of Kayseri, was working at a construction site in Antalya. He was detained in Finike district. Police found sulfuric acid and a map of Antalya after searching his residence.

Questioned by the police, AK confessed to his contacts with the terrorist group. He told police that a terrorist he knew as “Devran Rojhat”, who is currently in Syria, ordered him to set fire to several places in Antalya. He said Devran Rojhat provided him with money and videos on building hand-made devices that can be used to start forest fires.

The PKK has a long history of burning the forests of Türkiye as a method of “revenge” from the Turkish state and causing civilian deaths and environmental destruction in the process.

Forest fires, aggravated by the fallout from climate change, threaten the evergreen lands of Türkiye. The country saw 226,845 hectares of forest damaged or completely burned between 2012 and 2021, with more than 61% of that loss occurring in 2021 alone. Data from the General Directorate of Forestry (OGM) shows that 27,150 wildfires have occurred across the country in the past decade. The fires, while not uncommon, appear to have increased, which is attributed to high winds spreading them and scorching temperatures making the situation even worse.

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