Car bomb attack in Turkey kills 11 police officers, 78 wounded
A Kurdish militant suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden truck into a checkpoint near a police station in southeast Turkey on Friday, killing at least 11 police officers and wounding 78 others, the prime minister said. The attack struck the checkpoint 50 meters (yards) from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly-Kurdish Sirnak province that borders Syria.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has claimed the responsibility for carrying out the deadly attack on the Turkish police. “Our sacrifice team staged a comprehensive action in Cizre that left dozens of police dead,” said the PKK, which is known for exaggerating tolls.
In the statement on its website it said the attack was retaliation for the “continued isolation” of its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and the “lack of information” about his welfare. Ocalan is held on the prison island of Imrali off Istanbul but has not been allowed visits by lawyers or supporters for over a year.
The PKK also said it was behind an attack in the northeastern province of Artvin on a convoy carrying the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Thursday. The PKK denied targeting the politician, saying it had “no advance information” he was in the convoy. One gendarme was killed in the attack.
The attack was presented by some politicians as an assassination attempt against Kilicdaroglu and an attack on democracy in Turkey. Kilicdaroglu was unharmed and attended the funeral of the dead gendarme on Friday.
But the PKK said the “CHP and Kilicdaroglu were not targeted in any way”, adding that its only targets were the Turkish security forces.
However, earlier in the day no outfit claimed responsibility, even as authorities suspected the PKK for the attacks.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the attack was a PKK suicide bombing carried out with an explosives-laden truck. He vowed to "destroy the terrorists."
"No terrorist organisation can take the Turkish Republic hostage,'' he said in Istanbul. "We will give these scoundrels every response they deserve."
Turkey sent tanks across the Syrian border, following weeks of deadly attacks by the PKK and the Islamic State (IS). The operation aims to help Syrian rebels retake Jarablus, a key IS-held border town, and to contain the expansion of Syrian Kurdish militia who are linked to the PKK.
Heightened PKK attacks in Turkey could prompt it to take bolder moves against the Syrian Kurds. On Thursday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported that Turkish artillery fired at a group Syrian Kurdish fighters, who were seen advancing north toward Jarablus, despite Turkish warnings for them to retreat.
“This attack, which comes at a time when Turkey is engaged in an intense struggle against terrorist organisations both within and outside its borders, only serves to increase our determination as a country and a nation,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Violence between the PKK and the security forces resumed last year, after the collapse of a fragile two-year peace process between the government and the militant group. Hundreds of security force members, militants and civilians have been killed since.
At the same time, Turkey has been afflicted by deadly attacks blamed on IS militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in southeast Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul's main airport in June that killed 44 people.