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Erdogan Asserts Power After Turkish Party Discord During Absence

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reminded his followers that he alone is the leader of governing party after an internal spat that erupted while he was on state visits in Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

“The AK Party’s chairman is Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” he told reporters after arriving in Istanbul from a five-day trip.

Erdogan’s comments followed a public dispute between Justice and Development Party spokesman Huseyin Celik and Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin, who said Turkey didn’t need to apologize after the accidental killing of 34 civilians wrongly identified as members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

AK Party spokesman Celik said the comments weren’t “humane.”

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in the southeast since 1984 in a conflict where more than 40,000 people died.

“We’ve already made our announcement on this matter,” Erdogan said of the December bombing. “We said there may have been a mistake there since the very beginning, yet we also said this is a terror-ridden area.”

Erdogan said the government’s actions since the incident, which include visits by officials, an offer of compensation and investigations, speak for themselves and are equal to an apology.

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