Hopes for halt to conflict as militants end hunger strike


Hundreds of Kurdish militants ended a hunger strike in jails across Turkey yesterday in response to an appeal from their leader, fuelling hopes a deal had been struck that could revive talks to end a decades-old conflict.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan called on his supporters to end their protest after holding discussions with Turkish MIT intelligence agency officials.

Top MIT officials have held secret meetings with senior PKK representatives in Oslo in recent years and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in September more talks were possible.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in 28 years of fighting between Turkey and the PKK – designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the US and the European Union.

Mr Ocalan's call for an end to the hunger strike, which militants staged to demand an end to his isolation in an island prison south of Istanbul, was announced by his brother on Saturday.

"On the basis of our leader's call... we end our protest as of 18 November 2012," Deniz Kaya, a spokesman for the jailed PKK militants, said.

The announcement was welcomed by the government, which had been worried any deaths during the hunger strike might provoke more violence.