A Turkish reconnaissance plane crashed into a mountain in eastern Van Province early on Thursday, killing seven people on board.
“A reconnaissance aircraft crashed into Mount Artos in Van Province’s Gevaş district earlier today. Seven security members- 2 pilots and 5 technical personnel, were martyred,” Suleyman Soylu, Turkish Interior Minister, tweeted.
The crash comes on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the failed coup attempt against the Erdogan regime.
The aircraft took off from Van Ferit Melen Airport at 6.35 p.m. local time (1535GMT). Four hours later, contact with the plane was lost and it soon disappeared from the radars.
A probe has been ordered to ascertain cause of the crash.
Ankara had issued a request for information (RFI) on July 31, 2015, for an unspecified number of reconnaissance and observation aircraft. A Turkish defense procurement official was quoted as saying by Hurriyet Daily back then: “Recent incidents of violence and clashes with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has both boosted and given pace to this requirement.”
Van Province is a region bubbling with tensions between Turkey and Kurdistan Workers Party. In 1984, the group took up arms against the Turkish state, waging an insurgency for autonomy in the southeast. The conflict has left over 40,000 people dead.
On July 9, the Interior Ministry said in a written statement that a senior PKK member from the state’s most-wanted list, with a TL 500,000 (nearly $73,000) bounty on his head, had been killed in Van Province late last month.