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Turkey suspends more than 11,000 teachers over 'links with Kurdish party'

The number is expected to go up to 14,000 based on the results of an investigation carried out in coordination with local governors' offices. Photograph: (Getty)

Istanbul, Turkey Sep 08, 2016, 06.44 PM (IST)

Turkey has suspended more than 11,000 teachers over suspected links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Turkish official said on Thursday, following a purge of education staff in the wake of a failed coup bid.

"The individuals in question are temporarily suspended -- placed on paid leave -- pending formal investigation," the official said on condition of anonymity.

A total of 11,500 teachers suspected by the education ministry of having engaged in activities "in support of the separatist terrorist organisation and its affiliates" have been suspended, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

The number is expected to go up to 14,000 based on the results of an investigation carried out in coordination with local governors' offices, Anadolu said, without elaborating further.

The suspension comes just over a week before the new academic session gets under way in Turkey.

In a key visit to the Kurdish-majority city Diyarbakir in the southeast of Turkey on Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said up to 14,000 teachers would be suspended over links to the PKK.

There are 850,000 teachers in Turkey. 

The insurgency in the southeast region has resumed after last year's collapse of a fragile ceasefire declared by the PKK.

The latest move comes following the Turkish government's decision to purge tens of thousands of education personnel, including teachers and university academics, after the July 15 coup attempt.

The coup sought to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power. 

Turkish authorities have blamed the coup on Erdogan's arch-foe, US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen. 

The government has vowed to press on with its campaign to eradicate the PKK from southeasternTurkey. 

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkey's Kurdish minority.

(AFP)

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