Truck bomb kills 18 in Turkey, IS blamed

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Eigh­teen peo­ple were killed yes­ter­day when a van packed with five tons of ex­plo­sives blew up in Turkey’s restive south­east in an at­tack blamed on Kur­dish mil­i­tants, the prime min­is­ter said.

The bomb­ing, which killed 10 sol­diers and eight civil­ians, was one of the sin­gle dead­li­est at­tacks on the Turk­ish se­cu­rity forces since the at­tempted coup of July 15 when a rogue mil­i­tary fac­tion tried to oust Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. “The at­tack was per­pe­trated by a sui­cide bomber who det­o­nated a van (packed) with five tones of ex­plo­sives,” Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim told a press con­fer­ence in Is­tan­bul.

Ear­lier re­ports put the toll at nine dead af­ter the at­tack which tar­geted a se­cu­rity post in Hakkari prov­ince. The ex­plo­sion oc­curred as se­cu­rity forces were search­ing ve­hi­cles in Semdinli dis­trict, the of­fi­cial news agency Anadolu said. An­other 26 peo­ple — 10 sol­diers and 16 civil­ians-were in­jured in the blast which was blamed on the out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK), Anadolu said.

The blast left a gap­ing hole in the road which was 10-15 me­ters wide (3349 foot) and up to seven me­ters (22 foot) deep, Anadolu said. It also caused ma­jor dam­age to the main gate of the se­cu­rity post. Soon af­ter the at­tack, the mil­i­tary con­firmed it had be­gun a large-scale air op­er­a­tion. And, as in pre­vi­ous at­tacks, the Ra­dio and Tele­vi­sion Supreme Coun­cil (RTUK) is­sued a tem­po­rary ban on im­ages from the scene and of the vic­tims, it said on its web­site.

‘Heinous ter­ror at­tack’

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nu­man Kur­tul­mus de­scribed Sun­day’s at­tack as an “atro­cious” and “heinous ter­ror­ist at­tack”, vow­ing on Twit­ter that Turkey would never sur­ren­der to mil­i­tant groups. Over the past two months, the mil­i­tary says it has killed a to­tal of 387 PKK mil­i­tants in Hakkari prov­ince, CNNTurk re­ported.

The PKK has waged a 32-year in­sur­gency against the Turk­ish state, which has left nearly 40,000 dead since 1984. The group is pro­scribed as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by Turkey, the United States and the Euro­pean Union. Since the col­lapse of a two-and-a-half-year cease­fire in July 2015, more than 600 se­cu­rity forces and over 7,000 PKK mil­i­tants have been killed, ac­cord­ing to Anadolu. Over the past 15 months, at­tacks on the Turk­ish se­cu­rity forces have con­tin­ued on an al­most daily ba­sis as the gov­ern­ment has pressed mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against the PKK to rid ur­ban ar­eas of fight­ers.

Fight will go on

Yildirim vowed that Turkey would con­tinue with de­ter­mi­na­tion its “fight against the sep­a­ratist ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion (PKK)... and all kinds of ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions” in­clud­ing ji­hadists from the Is­lamic State (IS) group. The bomb­ing comes a day af­ter two sus­pects be­lieved to have been pre­par­ing a car bomb at­tack blew them­selves up on the out­skirts of Ankara when po­lice or­dered them to sur­ren­der. Turk­ish of­fi­cials said they be­lieved the pair were linked to the PKK. — AFP

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