Turkey Conducts Airstrikes After Suicide Car Bombing

Turkey Conducts Airstrikes  After Suicide Car BombingTurkey Conducts Airstrikes  After Suicide Car Bombing

Turkey’s air force hit Kurdish targets in northern Iraq on Monday, hours after a suicide car bombing in the capital killed 37 people and heightened tensions with the Kurdish rebels.

Nine F-16s and two F-4 jets raided 18 positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK in the northern Iraq, including the Qandil Mountains where the group’s leadership is based, AP reported, citing the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Police, meanwhile, carried out raids in the southern city of Adana, detaining suspected PKK rebels, the agency reported. The private Dogan news agency said at least 36 suspects were taken under custody. Fifteen suspected Kurdish militants were also detained in Istanbul, Anadolu said.

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said three more people died overnight from wounds suffered in the Sunday night attack that targeted buses and people waiting at bus stops at the heart of Ankara. Scores of others were injured.

Police on Monday blocked the boulevard where the attack targeting buses and people waiting at bus stops occurred, as forensic teams scoured the road, which is Ankara’s main artery, for more clues.

A senior government official told AP that authorities believe the attack was carried out by two bombers—one of them a woman—and was the work of Kurdish militants. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

It was the second deadly attack blamed on Kurdish militants in the capital in the past month and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to bring “terrorism to its knees”.

  Multi-Front War

On Feb. 17, a suicide car-bombing in the capital targeted buses carrying military personnel, killing 29 people. A Kurdish militant group, which is an offshoot of the PKK, claimed the bombing.

Turkey is grappling with a host of issues, including renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels, tensions with a Syrian Kurdish militia group affiliated with the PKK, threats from the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group and a Syrian refugee crisis.

Some 210 people have died in five suicide bomb attacks in Turkey since July, which were blamed either on the Kurdish rebels or the IS militants.

Sunday’s blast came as Turkey’s security forces were preparing to launch large-scale operations against militants in two mainly Kurdish towns after authorities imposed curfews there, prompting some residents to flee.

The operation in the town of Nusaybin, on the border with Syria, began on Monday, Anadolu reported. Tanks have also been deployed at the town of Yuksekova, near the border with Iraq, but it was not immediately clear when the offensive there would start.

Authorities on Monday announced another curfew, to go into effect at 2100 GMT in the city of Sirnak, near the border with Iraq, signaling that the military was also preparing to battle Kurdish militants there.

Turkey has been imposing curfews in several flashpoints in the southeast since August to root out militants linked to the PKK, who had set up barricades, dug trenches and planted explosives. The military operations have raised concerns over human rights violations and scores of civilian deaths. Tens of thousands of people have also been displaced by the fighting.

  3-Month Operation

Last week, Turkey’s military ended a three-month operation against the militants in the historic Sur district of Diyarbakir—the largest city in the country’s mostly Kurdish southeast.

On Sunday, authorities eased the curfew in some streets and one neighborhood of Sur, but the siege over the district’s main areas was still in place.

The PKK has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union. A fragile peace process with the PKK collapsed in July when Turkey reignited a battle that has cost tens of thousands of lives since 1984.

Ankara’s residents rushed to hospitals and morgues for news of missing loved ones.