Turkey Strikes Kurdish Rebels After Suicide Attack in Ankara

By John Mercury October 2, 2023

Turkish warplanes on Sunday struck targets affiliated with a Kurdish rebel organization in northern Iraq, the Turkish Ministry of Defense said in a statement, hours after the separatist group took responsibility for a suicide bombing that wounded two police officers in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

The airstrikes destroyed “20 targets, consisting of caves, bunkers, shelters and warehouses” belonging to the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., the ministry said.

“Many terrorists were neutralized,” the ministry added.

Earlier on Sunday and moments before Turkey’s Parliament was scheduled to convene nearby, two assailants in a small commercial vehicle carried out a bombing on the national police headquarters in Ankara.

One of the assailants blew himself up, and the other was killed in clashes with the police, according to Ali Yerlikaya, Turkey’s interior minister, who posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Two police officers were wounded in the attack.

It was not immediately clear who the attackers were, but ANF News, a news agency linked to the P.K.K., said that the group claimed responsibility. Turkey has faced regular attacks in the past from Kurdish separatists, members of the Islamic State and other groups. But in recent years, such episodes have become rare.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the P.K.K. a terrorist organization.

The blast resonated in Ankara, where residents posted on social media that they had heard gunfire. The security forces quickly cordoned off the blast site and kept journalists away.

The attack took place near key government buildings. The police headquarters is in the same building as the Interior Ministry, which oversees domestic security.

The Parliament building is nearby and was scheduled to reopen on Sunday afternoon after its summer recess with a speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It was not immediately clear if the attack was connected to Parliament’s resumption, which continued as scheduled.

In his address to Parliament, Mr. Erdogan called the attack one of the last “flailings of terrorism.”

“The vile people who targeted the peace and safety of citizens could not reach their aim and will never be able to reach it,” Mr. Erdogan said. “We will continue our struggle with determination until the last terrorist is eliminated.”

NTV, a Turkish broadcaster, said the Parliament building was closed while security forces searched for bombs. It shared a still image from an unverified surveillance video that purported to capture the attack and was widely shared on social media. The video showed a van stopping on the street outside the gate to the police compound and two men with weapons getting out. One ran toward the gate and then disappeared in a large cloud of smoke apparently caused by an explosion.

The Interior Ministry said the second assailant was also wearing a bomb, which the police detonated in a controlled manner after killing the attacker.

The public prosecutor’s office in Ankara opened an investigation into the attack, Turkey’s justice minister, Yilmaz Tunc, wrote on X.

The attack was the first in Ankara in a number of years. Last November, a bombing that the government accused Kurdish militants of orchestrating killed six people and wounded dozens of others on a busy pedestrian street in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.

Alissa J. Rubin reported from Baghdad, Iraq.


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