Confusion over deadly Turkey bombing claims
Confusion reigned yesterday over who carried out an attack in Turkey that left 11 dead, with one source claiming it was the Islamic State but authorities insisting Kurdish militants were to blame. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had said Friday’s bombing near police headquarters in Diyarkabir was carried out by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has regularly targeted security forces since ending a truce in 2015.
But the US-based SITE Intelligence Group cited an “insider source” for the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency as saying “fighters from the Islamic State detonated an explosives-laden vehicle parked in front of a Turkish police headquarters in Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey.” The local governorate in Diyarbakir yesterday then issued a new statement insisting the bombing was carried out by the PKK, saying this conclusion was based on intercepted radio conversations. It said that the three tons of explosives used in the bombing were activated by a PKK operative with the codename “Kemal”.
“This information clearly shows that the attack was carried out by the separatist terror organization,” it said, using the customary official phrase for the PKK. The early morning attack on a police headquarters in the Kurdish-majority of Diyarbakir initially left nine people dead, including two police officers, and over 100 wounded. The state-run Anadolu news agency said the toll rose to 11 yesterday after two more civilian victims succumbed to their wounds.
The explosion left a swathe of devastation, blowing out the entire front of a nearby apartment block and leaving the surroundings covered in rubble. Emergency workers yesterday sifted through the damage while residents arrived to recuperate whatever belongings they could salvage, an AFP photographer said. The proKurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) said six of its MPs, including its co-leaders, had narrowly escaped injury in the attack as they were being held in the police complex following their detention overnight.
If confirmed, the Islamist State claim of responsibility would be its first for an attack in Turkey, although the jihadist group has been blamed over the last year for a series of strikes against Kurdish activists, tourists and on Istanbul airport. There has so far been no denial or claim of responsibility from the PKK.
IS call for attacks
In an audio message released earlier this week, reclusive IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi broke a nearly year-long silence to call for attacks against Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia, and for his fighters to hold their ground in their stronghold of Mosul, Iraq. Ankara has troops stationed at a base just outside Mosul and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s escalating rhetoric has raised fears of an expanded Turkish military intervention in Iraq. Yildirim said the PKK had again showed its “ugly face” with the attack. The HDP meanwhile said its co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag as well as four other MPs had been brought to the police complex overnight after their detention early Friday. It said in a statement Demirtas had been taken to court just before the attack and Yuksekdag was in the complex when it happened. Without directly saying its MPs were the target, it noted that the minibus packed with explosives had blown up early following an alert from a taxi driver. —AFP
DIYARBAKIR: People collect their belongings in a destroyed building a day after a strong blast in the southeastern Turkish city. — AFP