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14 dead after ‘Kurdish bombings’ in Turkey

Published : Aug 19, 2016, 5:45 am IST
Updated : Aug 19, 2016, 5:45 am IST

Turkish authorities search outside the damaged building of the police headquarters after an explosion in Elazig, eastern Turkey. (Photo: AP)


Turkish authorities search outside the damaged building of the police headquarters after an explosion in Elazig, eastern Turkey. (Photo: AP)

Suspected Kurdish rebels have carried out a wave of deadly bombings in Turkish cities in what appears to be an intensified campaign against state security forces in the chaotic aftermath of the failed coup.

Turkish leaders on Thursday accused the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of waging three attacks in less than 24 hours that for the first time struck areas in the east that are not predominantly Kurdish.

At least 14 people have been killed in total and around 300 wounded, according to various officials. One of the bombings struck near a hall in the far eastern city of Van where a wedding party was in full swing, sending the bride and groom and their guests fleeing in panic. “Our fight against terror will never cease,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. The bloodshed comes after a top commander with the PKK — which is labelled a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies — last week threatened further attacks in Turkish cities. Early Thursday, a car bomb blew up at police headquarters in the eastern city of Elazig, killing five people, including three police and injuring more than 200 people. The force of the blast left the building largely in ruins and turned nearby vehicles into blackened, mangled wrecks.

The city, a conservative nationalist bastion, had been spared much of the violence that has rocked the Kurdish-dominated southeast since a two-and-a-half year ceasefire collapsed in 2015. Just a few hours later, five soldiers and a village guard were killed when a homemade bomb exploded in the path of a military convoy in the southeastern town of Bitlis.

And on Wednesday night, two policemen and a civilian were killed and dozens wounded in another car bombing in Van, which has a mixed ethnic Kurd and Turkish population. Dramatic video footage showed the moment the bomb exploded as a wedding party was taking place in a nearby hall, causing debris to fly everywhere and people to flee, screaming. The rebels appear to have intensified their attacks since the failed July 15 attempt to overthrow Erdogan, seen by critics as an increasingly authoritarian and polarising figure.

One senior politician suggested the PKK was collaborating with supporters of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, an erstwhile Erdogan ally now accused by Ankara of orchestrating the coup bid.

“Once again, the attacks in Van and Elazig show how PKK and FETO work together,” former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu wrote on Twitter, using the name Ankara gives to the movement led by Gulen.

Location: Turkey, Ankara