With the Kurdish Guerillas

With the Kurdish Guerillas

Beritan was a seventeen-year-old Kurdish girl with a wide grin and a big gun. It wasn’t the gun that worried me so much as the grenades—two strapped to a cartridge belt around her waist. I had visions of an accidental explosion, and I kept inching away each time she plopped down next to me for a chat.

But there really wasn’t anywhere else to go. All around me were armed guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK), the separatist group battling the Turkish army for control of the largely Kurdish southeast. Many of the guerrillas were no older than high school students—boys and girls toting AK-47s, knives, pistols, and those grenades. “Don’t worry,” said Beritan, who looked quite sweet in baggy green military wear. “We are very well trained. We haven’t lost anyone yet from this camp.”

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