Turkiye strikes suspected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq after suicide attack in Ankara

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The Turkish Defence Ministry says its warplanes have carried out raids on suspected Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Sunday following a suicide attack on a government building in the Turkish capital.

A Ministry statement said some 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were “destroyed” in the aerial operation, including caves, shelters, and depots.

Earlier, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near an entrance of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, injuring two police officers. A second assailant was killed in a shootout with police on Sunday, the interior minister said.

A news agency close to the PKK said the group has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

The attack happened hours before Turkiye’s Parliament was set to reopen after its three-month summer recess with an address by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Two police officers were slightly wounded in the bombing near an entrance to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on X. Assailants who arrived at the scene inside a light commercial vehicle carried out the attack, he said.

“Our heroic police officers, through their intuition, resisted the terrorists as soon as they got out of the vehicle,” Yerlikaya later told reporters. “One of them blew himself up, while the other one was shot in the head before he had a chance to blow himself up.” “Our fight against terrorism, their collaborators, the (drug) dealers, gangs, and organised crime organisations will continue with determination,” he said.

The interior minister did not say who was behind the attack. However, ANF News, a news agency close to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, reported on Sunday night that the group had claimed responsibility for the blast.

Leftist extremists and the Islamic State group have also carried out deadly attacks throughout Turkiye in the past.

Erdogan gave his speech in Parliament as planned and called the attack “the last stand of terrorism.” “The scoundrels who targeted the peace and security of the citizens could not achieve their goals and they never will,” he said.

The president reiterated his government’s aim to create a 30-km safe zone along Turkiye’s border with Syria to secure its southern border from attacks.

Turkiye has launched several incursions into northern Syria since 2016 to drive away the Islamic State group and a Kurdish militia group, known by the initials YPG, and controls swaths of territory in the area.

Turkiye views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Turkiye, the United States, and the European Union. The PKK has waged an insurgency against Turkiye since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.

Last year, a bomb blast in a bustling pedestrian street in Istanbul left six people dead, including two children. More than 80 others were wounded. Turkiye blamed the attack on the PKK and the YPG.

The State-run Anadolu Agency reported that the two attackers on Sunday had seized the vehicle in the central province of Kayseri from a veterinarian. The pro-government daily Sabah reported that they shot the man in the head and threw his body into a ditch by the side of the road. They then drove the vehicle to Ankara, roughly 300 km away.

Security camera footage on Sunday showed the vehicle stopping in front of the ministry, with a man exiting it and rushing toward the entrance of the building before blowing himself up. A second man is seen following him.

Earlier, television footage showed bomb squads working near a vehicle in the area, which is located near the Turkish Grand National Assembly and other government buildings. A rocket launcher could be seen lying near the vehicle.

Turkish authorities later imposed a temporary blackout on images from the scene.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said an investigation has been launched into the “terror attack.” “These attacks will in no way hinder Turkiye’s fight against terrorism,” he wrote on X. “Our fight against terrorism will continue with more determination.” Police cordoned off access to the city centre and increased security measures, warning citizens that they would be conducting controlled explosions of suspicious packages.

The two police officers were being treated in a hospital and were not in serious condition, Yerlikaya said.

Egypt, which has normalised ties with Turkiye after a decade of tensions, condemned the attack. A terse statement from the Foreign Ministry offered Egypt’s solidarity with Turkiye.

The US Embassy in Ankara and other foreign missions also issued messages condemning the attack.

Erdogan in his speech did not provide any indication as to when Turkiye’s parliament may ratify Sweden’s membership in NATO.

Stockholm applied for NATO membership alongside Finland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. While Finland has since joined, Turkiye blocked Sweden’s membership in the military alliance, accusing it of not doing enough to tackle groups like PKK from operating on its soil.

In a posting on X, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Stockholm “strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack in Ankara.” “We reaffirm our commitment to long-term cooperation with Türkiye in combating terrorism and wish for quick and full recovery of the ones injured,” he wrote, using the Turkish government’s preferred spelling for the country. (AP) RHL

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