Kurdish militants blamed for Ankara bombing that kills 28

The massive bomb blast on Wednesday struck five buses carrying military service personnel at a traffic light in the centre of the Turkish capital Ankara. The attack killed 28 people and wounded 61 others.
The massive bomb blast on Wednesday struck five buses carrying military service personnel at a traffic light in the centre of the Turkish capital Ankara. The attack killed 28 people and wounded 61 others.PHOTO: REUTERS
Grief-stricken family members of some of the car bombing victims outside a morgue in Ankara yesterday.
Grief-stricken family members of some of the car bombing victims outside a morgue in Ankara yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA • Turkey yesterday blamed Kurdish militants for a car bombing targeting a military convoy in Ankara that left 28 people dead, in an attack likely to heighten tensions in neighbouring Syria.

The massive bomb blast struck five buses carrying military service personnel at a traffic light in the centre of the capital on Wednesday evening. Sixty-one people were wounded.

It was the latest in a string of deadly strikes that have rocked Turkey since last year and one of the deadliest assaults targeting the military in the Nato country in recent years.

  • Recent attacks

  • Jan 16, 2016: Eleven people, all German tourists, died when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the tourist heart of Turkey's biggest city, Istanbul. 

    Oct 10, 2015: In Turkey's bloodiest attack in modern history, two suicide bombers killed 103 people at a Kurdish peace rally in Ankara. 

    July 20, 2015: In the predominantly Kurdish town of Suruc, near the Syrian/Turkish border, at least 32 people were killed in a suicide bombingblamed on militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

    June 5, 2015: Two blasts ripped through a Kurdish rally, killing four people and injuring more than 100 in what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described as a "provocation" just two days before a parliamentary election.

Also yesterday, at least six soldiers were killed in an attack on their convoy in south-eastern Turkey blamed on Kurdish militants, security sources said.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Ankara attack was carried out by operatives of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in cooperation with the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

"It has with certainty been revealed that this attack was carried out by members of the terrorist organisation in Turkey in cooperation with a YPG member who infiltrated from Syria," said Dr Davutoglu, who identified the bomber as Syrian national Salih Necar.

Mr Erdogan said 14 people had been held in nationwide raids and that the number was likely to rise.

Police identified the bomber from fingerprints taken from refugees who crossed the border to escape the war in Syria, the pro-government daily Yeni Safak said in an online article.

The attack in the Turkish capital was in an area where the headquarters of the army, the Parliament and Prime Minister's offices are in close proximity.

Dr Davutoglu said 27 of the dead were members of the military and one was a civilian.

In a statement yesterday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it "strongly condemns the car bomb attack in central Ankara", adding that no Singaporean is known to be directly affected.

Hours after the attack, Turkey's air force launched new strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, acting on intelligence that there were dozens of fighters including top rebel leaders in the area, the army said.

The YPG and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), deny being PKK branches and argue that they have no interest in attacking Turkey.

PYD head Saleh Muslim rejected any responsibility for the Ankara blast, saying the group had "never heard of this person Salih Necar".

Turkey considers the PKK and YPG to be terror groups, and fears the Syrian Kurds want to carve out an autonomous region across the border in northern Syria stretching from the Iraqi border almost to the Mediterranean.

Ankara is concerned the Kurds will now take a "corridor" east of the Syrian flashpoint border town of Azaz - still under rebel control - to link up two Kurdish-held areas.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Kurdish militants blamed for Ankara bombing that kills 28'. Print Edition | Subscribe