Suicide bombing targets Turkish soldiers; 13 dead
Amir sends a cable of condolence to Turkey president
Thirteen Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens more wounded yesterday in a suicide car bombing targeting off-duty conscripts blamed on Kurdish militants, the latest in a string of attacks to rock Turkey in recent months. The government said all signs so far suggested the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was behind the bombing in the city of Kayseri, a usually calm industrial hub in Anatolia.
Forty-eight soldiers were wounded in the attack which struck when the soldiers were being taken from their barracks by bus on a weekend shopping trip, the army said in a statement. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said a total of 55 people were wounded, six seriously. Television pictures showed the bus reduced to a smoldering wreck by the blast, which comes a week after 44 people were killed in a double bombing in Istanbul after a football match. That attack was claimed by Kurdish militants.
Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said in televised comments that Kayseri attack was “unfortunately similar” to last weekend’s strikes in Istanbul. “All indications at present point to the PKK,” Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus told NTV television. “We have to take into account all possibilities but the signs at present point to the PKK.” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the attack was carried out by a “suicide bomber”, without giving further details.
The army said that the bus-carrying low-ranking privates and non-commissioned officers-was attacked after leaving the commando headquarters in the city. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the “acts of terror” in Turkey were “aiming at all 79 million of our citizens together with our soldiers and police.” Without referring specifically to the Kayseri attack, he said that Turkey was targeted by all terror groups but especially the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
“We will fight decisively against these terror organizations in the spirit of a national mobilization,” he said. Turkey has seen a spate of deadly bombings in a bloody 2016 blamed both on jihadists and Kurdish militants that have left dozens dead and put the country on daily alert. In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities blaming the Islamic State group.
Another 57 people including 34 children were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. Kurdish militants have twice struck with bombings that killed dozens in Ankara in February and March. The attacks have come with the civil war still raging in neighboring Syria, where Turkey is staging its own incursion to expel jihadists and Kurdish militia from the border area. Turkey is also still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from all state institutions.
One of the main cities of central Turkey, Kayseri is a key industrial hub with a population of over one million and usually seen as a peaceful area. The city lies close to the famous landscapes of Cappadocia, a magnet for tourists around the world. It is well west of the southeast of the country that has been hit by months of deadly fighting between the PKK and the security forces. Following the bombing, dozens of protesters stormed the offices of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Kayseri, draping a Turkish nationalist flag from the top floor, footage posted on social media showed.
The government slapped a temporary broadcast ban on footage of the attack, as is becoming typical in the aftermath of major incidents in the country. The Turkish military has stepped up operations against the PKK after a fragile ceasefire broke down in the summer of 2015. Since then, there has been a dramatic surge in violence that shows no sign of ending. Last week’s double bombing in Istanbul, which targeted police after a match of the Besiktas football club, was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) seen as a radical offshoot of the PKK.
Meanwhile, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday sent a cable of condolence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the victims of the car bombing that hit Turkey’s central province of Kayseri earlier yesterday and left dozens of people dead or wounded. In the cable, His Highness the Amir condemned the blast as a terrorist act that targeted innocents and breached all religions and human and ethical values. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent the Turkish president cables of similar sentiments.
KAYSERI: A public bus is seen burning at the scene of a car bomb attack in central Anatolian city of Kayseri, Turkey yesterday.