2 die in car bomb, rocket attack in Turkey

Kurdish people searching through rubble on the street on Thursday, the day after clashes between Turkish special forces and PKK militants broke out in south-east Cizre district in Sirnak, Turkey.
Kurdish people searching through rubble on the street on Thursday, the day after clashes between Turkish special forces and PKK militants broke out in south-east Cizre district in Sirnak, Turkey. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Another 35 are wounded in yesterday's offensive blamed on Kurdish militants

DIYARBAKIR (Turkey) • A car bomb and rocket attack by Kurdish militants killed two police officers and wounded 35 people in the southeastern Turkish province of Mardin yesterday, security sources said.

The attack was carried out around 6am by Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in the town of Nusaybin, near the Syrian border, they said.

The bomb blast caused significant damage to a traffic police station and homes nearby, the sources told Reuters.

A clash broke out between police and militants after the explosion. Security force reinforcements, along with ambulances and fire engines, were sent to the area, the sources added. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In more fighting, two soldiers were killed in a clash in the Idil district of the neighbouring province of Sirnak, which borders both Syria and Iraq and has seen some of the heaviest violence, Dogan news agency said. It also said Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had arrived in the province for a brief visit.

A ceasefire between the PKK and the state collapsed last July and attacks on Turkey's security forces have since increased amid a surge in violence in the predominantly Kurdish south-east that has killed hundreds of people.

Violence has also increased elsewhere in Turkey. A suicide car bombing targeting military buses in Ankara killed 29 people last month. The government said the attack was carried out by a member of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia with help from the PKK.

Turkey has also become a target for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants. In the past year, there were four deadly bomb attacks blamed on ISIS terrorists, including the deadliest in Turkey's modern history that killed 103 people in Ankara in October.

The PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, launched a separatist armed rebellion against Turkey in 1984. More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have since been killed.

In a related development, Turkey's Justice Ministry has submitted a request for Parliament to lift the immunity from prosecution of leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), state-run Anadolu Agency said yesterday.

President Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called for MPs from the party to face prosecution, accusing them of being an extension of the PKK.

Anadolu identified those targeted by the request as HDP's co-leaders, Mr Selahattin Demirtas and Ms Figen Yuksekdag, and party deputies, Ms Selma Irmak, Mr Sirri Sureyya Onder and Mr Ertugrul Kurkcu. The request was submitted to the Prime Minister's Office, it said. Turkish MPs have immunity from prosecution.

The opposition nationalist MHP asked Parliament on Thursday to discuss requests to lift the immunity of MPs as part of the fight against terrorism.

Mr Demirtas alone is the subject of some 60 dossiers in Parliament calling for the lifting of his immunity, including some related to his calls for street protests. However, there have been no moves yet in the assembly to open the way for his prosecution.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2016, with the headline '2 die in car bomb, rocket attack in Turkey'. Print Edition | Subscribe