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Erdogan: German charity helps PKK

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a German charity is indirectly helping fund the activities of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party.

Erdogan has frequently chided Germany and other European countries for allowing members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, known by the initials PKK, to move freely and raise funds for terror activities across the continent.

He stepped up the pressure Sunday in an interview with Turkish journalists during a flight from Macedonia to Istanbul, Today's Zaman reported, alleging an unnamed German charitable foundation is aiding the Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, which Ankara suspects of being a political offshoot of the PKK.

An investigation of the KCK has been going since 2009, during which several mayors and elected officials from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, have been arrested, the newspaper said.

Erdogan wouldn't identify the German group he accused of helping the KCK and thus indirectly helping to fund PKK terror activities.

But he alleged the German charitable foundations are providing loans to Turkish cities with pro-Kurdish mayors and elected officials and are controlling the choice of contractors they can use.

"In this way, they legally send money to the PKK," Erdogan told Today's Zaman, adding that Germany is acting indifferently toward the transactions despite being notified of them by Turkish officials.

Several mayors from the BDP as well as the main opposition Republican People's Party have been arrested as part of Ankara's investigation of the KCK. They deny any involvement with the PKK's terrorism activities and say it's part of a government effort at suppressing legitimate political opposition.

But Erdogan defended the probe, saying it's evident the arrested mayors aren't using aid funneled by federal government for investment to help their cities.

The remarks came during a months-long upsurge in attacks in Turkey. The PKK claims the assaults are part of its 30-year war in support of Kurdish rights. More than 40,000 people have died in the fighting.

Turkey in response has stepped up air and ground attacks on suspected PKK locations in northern Iraq.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told an international counter terrorism symposium hosted in New York last week by the U.N. Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force Office that the Kurdish rebel group is continuing to raise funds and organize in Europe.

Complaining that PKK members take advantage of European asylum laws, Davutoglu said the PKK recruits, disseminates propaganda and sell illegal drugs there to fund terrorist attacks in Turkey, the Anatolian Agency reported.

"International cooperation against terrorism cannot be selective or limited to fighting al-Qaida alone, otherwise, we will fail in our collective effort to eliminate terrorism in all its forms," he said, adding that all countries need to give "the same message, a clear message to terrorists: Namely that there is no safe haven or immunity from criminal justice."

The U.S. State Department, which lists the PKK as a terrorist organization, however, has said last year that "efforts to combat the threat in Europe were sometimes slowed by legal protections that made it difficult to take firm judicial action against suspected terrorists."

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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