| 4 December 2023, Monday |

After Ankara bombing, Turkey hits back in Iraq and at home

Turkey said it launched air strikes on terrorist targets in northern Iraq and detained suspects in Istanbul overnight, just hours after Kurdish militants claimed responsibility for the city’s first bomb assault in years.

Two assailants exploded a bomb near government offices in Ankara on Sunday morning, killing both and injuring two police officers. The insurgent group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey, claimed responsibility.

The defense ministry claimed several militants were “neutralized,” which usually means killed, in air attacks that destroyed 20 sites in Iraq’s Metina, Hakurk, Qandil, and Gara districts, including tunnels, shelters, and stores used by the PKK.

Turkey has stepped up military action against the PKK in northern Iraq over the last few years in operations it says are conducted under self-defense rights arising from Article 51 of the United Nations charter.

Iraqi President Abdul-Latif Rashid said in comments aired on Monday that Iraq rejected repeated Turkish air strikes or the presence of Turkish bases in its Kurdistan region and hoped to come to an agreement with Ankara to solve the problem.

The PKK is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union. It launched an insurgency in southeast Turkey in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

On Sunday, CCTV footage seen by Reuters showed a vehicle pulling up outside the interior ministry’s main gate in Ankara and one of its occupants quickly walking toward the building before being engulfed in an explosion.

The bomb killed one attacker and security forces killed the other, the interior minister said. The blast rattled a district that is home to ministries and the parliament, in an attack coinciding with the reopening of the assembly.

One attacker was identified as a PKK member and work was continuing on identifying the other one, an interior ministry statement said, adding that explosives, grenades, a rocket launcher and various guns were seized at the scene.

It said the attackers had hijacked the vehicle and killed its driver in Kayseri, a city 260 km (161 miles) southeast of Ankara.

  • Reuters