Blast 'stiffens Turkey's resolve' to fight terror

Relatives of a blast victim at his funeral in Ankara yesterday. A car bomb tore through a crowded transport hub in the Turkish capital on Sunday, killing at least 37 people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but evidence has been obtain
Relatives of a blast victim at his funeral in Ankara yesterday. A car bomb tore through a crowded transport hub in the Turkish capital on Sunday, killing at least 37 people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but evidence has been obtained that one of the two suspected bombers was a female member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

President promises swift action against those behind car bomb; four suspects detained

ANKARA • A car bomb that tore through a crowded transport hub in the Turkish capital, Ankara, would only bolster the country's determination to fight terrorism, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who vowed swift retaliation against those responsible - before Turkish warplanes proceeded to bomb Kurdish camps in northern Iraq.

"These attacks, which threaten our country's integrity and our nation's unity and solidarity, do not weaken our resolve in fighting terrorism but bolster our determination," Mr Erdogan said in a statement late on Sunday, pledging to bring terror "to its knees".

The blast on Sunday killed at least 37 and wounded 125, in the third such attack in the administrative heart of the city in five months. It was heard several kilometres away and sent burning debris showering down over an area a few hundred metres from the Justice and Interior ministries and a top courthouse.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose office is just 183m from the blast site, also promised "the heaviest punishment" for perpetrators, even as he said the government was close to identifying the group responsible for the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but evidence has been obtained that one of the two suspected bombers was a female member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who joined the militant group in 2013, security officials said yesterday. She was born in 1992 and from the eastern Turkish city of Kars, they added. The woman's severed hand was found 300m from the blast site, a police source said. The second suspected bomber is a male Turkish citizen with links to the PKK, a security official said yesterday.

The police also detained four people in south-east Turkey yesterdayover the vehicle used in the attack, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. It cited security sources as saying the four were detained in Sanliurfa, north of the Syrian border, after they established the vehicle was bought from a car showroom there.

Violence has spiralled in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish south-east since a ceasefire with the PKK collapsed last July. But the militants, who say they are fighting for Kurdish autonomy, have historically struck security forces. The Turkish military said 11 warplanes carried out air strikes on 18 PKK targets in northern Iraq early yesterday, hours after Sunday's attack.

World leaders joined in condemning the bombing. A United States White House statement said: "The US stands together with Turkey, a Nato ally and valued partner, as we confront the scourge of terrorism."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "appalled", while French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described it as a"cowardly attack". Russian President Vladimir Putin described it as "inhuman", his spokesman told Russian news agencies. "There can be no justification for such heinous acts of violence," Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the attack in a statement yesterday, and said it had contacted all registered Singaporeans and none were affected . "We extend our condolences to the bereaved families and wish those injured a speedy recovery," the statement added.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Blast 'stiffens Turkey's resolve' to fight terror'. Print Edition | Subscribe