Militant Kurdish group claims Ankara attack: Statement

Turkish flag-draped coffins of the victims of Wednesday's car bombing during a funeral ceremony in Ankara Feb 19, 2016.
Turkish flag-draped coffins of the victims of Wednesday's car bombing during a funeral ceremony in Ankara Feb 19, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (AFP) - A militant Kurdish group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Friday claimed the suicide bombing in Ankara this week on the Turkish military that killed 28 people.

"On February 17 in the evening a suicide attack was carried out by a sacrifice warrior on a military convoy of the fascist Turkish Republic in Ankara... The attack was realised by the Immortal Battalion of the TAK," the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) said in a statement on their website.

The group named the suicide bomber as Zinar Raperin born in 1989 in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated eastern region of Van, who had been involved with the Kurdish "freedom struggle" and since 2011 with the TAK.

It said that the attack was carried out in revenge for the killing of "vulnerable people" who were hiding in basements during a two-month Turkish military operation against the PKK in the southeastern town of Cizre.

Turkish officials have blamed the Ankara attack on the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which Turkey says is a branch of the PKK, a charge vehemently denied by the group.

 

The TAK's claim of the bomber's identity is in contradiction to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who said the bomber was a Syrian national YPG operative.

The TAK is a little-known group which has nonetheless risen to prominence in recent months after it claimed firing mortar shells on Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport on Dec 23.

The firing left one airport cleaner dead and also damaged several planes.

Turkey has been waging an all-out offensive against the PKK, imposing military operations backed by curfews to flush out the rebels from several southeastern urban centres including Cizre.

Turkish officials say the TAK is a front for PKK attacks on civilian targets, but the PKK claims TAK is a splinter group over which it has no control.

In a statement on Dec 30, the TAK warned that the Sabiha Gokcen attack was just the start of a new wave of assaults.