Ankara, Turkey: A suicide car bomb exploded near a bus stop on Sunday, killing 34 passersby and wounding nearly 130. Kurdish militants are thought to be behind the attack, but the assailants were almost certainly killed in the explosion.
Sunday’s bombing marks the third of such attacks in Turkey’s capital during the past five months. The country is struggling to balance threats from ISIS, ongoing attacks from Kurds within its own borders, and the influx of Syrian refugees.
The morning of the bombing, Turkish authorities announced curfews for Kurdish communities as they readied an attack against Kurdish militants. Meanwhile, Russia has accused Turkey of sending troops into Syria to disrupt Kurdish forces there.
No group has admitted to carrying out Sunday’s attack, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says evidence “almost certainly” incriminates the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – the banned separatist group that has admitting to carrying out previous bombings in the capital. The PKK is based is southeastern Turkey with many sister camps in northern Iraq. An offshoot termed TAK (Kurdistan Freedom Hawks) has admitted to carrying out the car bombing last month that killed 28 and wounded dozens when it hit a military convoy in Ankara.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had enough with the ongoing Kurdish problem and has vowed to crackdown on the militants after Sunday’s bombing. His immediate response to the attack was to launch airstrikes against 18 PKK targets in northern Iraq. “Our people should not worry, the struggle against terrorism will for certain end in success and terrorism will be brought to its knees,” he said.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, which has been accused of being the political arm of the PKK, condemned Sunday’s attack, saying it shares “the huge pain felt along with our citizens.” Saudi Arabia’s King Salman also sent his condolences and condemned the attack after it was discovered that a Saudi women and three children were among those killed.
Representing the US State Department, spokesman John Kirby reaffirmed America’s “strong partnership with our NATO ally Turkey in combatting he shared threat of terrorism.”
Hundreds of innocents in Turkey have perished following the breakdown of the peace process between the PKK and the Turkish government last summer. The country has also been hit with multiple bombings (blamed on ISIS) after it decided to join US-led efforts to fight ISIS in Syria. Civil rights questions have been raised as Turkey’s efforts to eradicate the PKK and other Kurdish groups continue to kill, wound, and displace civilians.