Friday, December 8, 2023

20 PKK targets in Iraq destroyed after Ankara attack: Turkey

Turkey says its fighter jets have carried out raids on Kurdish targets in northern Iraq following a suicide attack on a government building in capital Ankara, hitting positions of the terror Kurdish group, PKK.

A Turkish interior ministry statement on Sunday said some 20 targets of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) group were “destroyed” in the aerial operation, including caves, shelters and depots.

The military ramped up air strikes in Iraq’s PKK bases in Gara, Hakurk, Metina and Qandil, the statement added.

The strikes came hours after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near an entrance of the interior ministry building in Ankara, injuring two police officers. A second assailant was killed in a shootout with police.

A news agency close to the PKK said the group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

A statement from the ANF news agency announced the PKK planned the bombing to coincide with the opening of the parliament. It added the attack was carried out by “a team of ours linked to our Immortals Battalion” group.

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

According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, the two attackers had seized the vehicle from a veterinarian in the central province of Kayseri, a city 260km (161 miles) southeast of Ankara.

CCTV footage showed a vehicle pulling up to the interior ministry’s main gate and one of its occupants quickly walking towards the building before being engulfed in an explosion, while the other remains on the street.

The blast killed one of the attackers and authorities “neutralised”, or killed, the other, the interior minister said of the incident that rattled a central district that is home to ministerial buildings and nearby parliament.

The suicide attack occurred hours before the Turkish parliament was set to reopen after its three-month summer recess with an address by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who stated the blast was “the latest attempt” to inflict terror on the Turks.

“Those who threaten the peace and security of citizens have not achieved their goals and never will,” he added.

The PKK and Daesh have carried out such attacks in tourist areas and city centres of Turkey in the past.

The bomb on Ataturk Boulevard was the first in Ankara since March 2016, when 37 people were killed after a bomb-laden car exploded at a crowded central transport hub.

Police said they carried out controlled explosions for “suspicious package incidents” in other parts of Ankara.

The incident came almost a year after six people were killed and 81 wounded in an explosion in a busy pedestrian street in central Istanbul. Turkey blamed Kurdish fighters for that.

During a series of bloody incidents in 2015 and 2016, Kurdish, Daesh and other groups either claimed or were blamed for several attacks in major Turkish cities.

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