Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) halted withdrawal of fighters from Turkey (Reuters)

Kurdish rebel fighters have halted their pullout of Turkey after accusing Ankara of bad faith in complying with a ceasefire deal.

A spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) urged the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to take the steps agreed in the peace roadmap in March.

"The suspension of the withdrawal is aimed at pushing the government to take the project seriously and to do what is needed", the PKK told pro-Kurdish news agency Firat.

Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan announced the historical deal to end the 30-year conflict which has claimed more than 40,000 lives.

PKK agreed to withdraw its estimated 2,500 fighters from Turkey to safe havens in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, while Ankara was called to implement democratic reforms to reinforce the rights of the Kurdish minority.

These included the abolition of a terrorist law used to jail thousands of alleged PKK affiliates and allowing Kurdish schoolchildren to be taught in their own language.

"[The] government's irresponsible approach towards the process was the reason for the ending of the withdrawal. It treated the negotiation process as a chance to win the elections, attached no importance to the achievement of a non-conflict environment, and the withdrawal and didn't answer the efforts of the Kurdish movement," the PKK said.

The group also accused Ankara of taking advantage of the retreat to build new military posts and dams in Kurdish areas, and of failing to release PKK prisoners.

Ankara maintained that the PKK had to withdraw completely for the process to continue. Erdogan claimed that only 20% of rebel fighters had left Turkey and that most of them were children or elderly.

The prime minister also contended that a general amnesty for PKK fighters, including for Ocalan, and the right to education in Kurdish, were not agreed on.

The PKK has been designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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