Thirteen Turkish soldiers killed, 56 wounded in car bombing

ISTANBUL: Thirteen Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens more wounded on Saturday in a suicide car bombing blamed on Kurdish militants targeting off-duty conscripts, the latest in a string of attacks to rock Turkey in recent months. The government said all signs so far suggested the the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was behind the bombing in the city of Kayseri, a usually calm industrial hub in the heart of Anatolia. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said a total of 56 people were wounded, half a dozen of them seriously, and that seven people had been detained on suspicion of involvement while five more were on the run.
Television pictures showed the bus reduced to a smouldering wreck by the blast, which came a week after 44 people were killed in a double bombing in Istanbul after a football match. That attack was claimed by Kurdish militants.
“All indications at present point to the PKK,” Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus told NTV television.
He said that the materials used in the bombing were similar to those used in the Istanbul attack last week. “You don’t just buy these at the shopping mall, there is a logistical support,” he said.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the attack was carried out by a “suicide bomber”, without giving further details. The bus, carrying low-ranking privates and non-commissioned officers,  was attacked after leaving the commando headquarters in the city to take the off-duty soldiers on a shopping trip. Those killed were in their early 20s, reports said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the “acts of terror” in Turkey were “aiming at all 79 million of our citizens together with our soldiers and police.”
Without referring specifically to the Kayseri attack, he said that Turkey was targeted by all terror groups but especially the PKK. “We will fight decisively against these terror organisations in the spirit of a national mobilisation,” he said.
Turkey has seen a spate of deadly bombings in a bloody 2016 blamed both on rebels and Kurdish militants that have left dozens dead and put the country on daily alert.
Kurdish militants have twice struck with bombings that killed dozens in Ankara in February and March.
The attacks have come with the civil war still raging in neighbouring Syria, where Turkey is trying to expel rebels and Kurdish militia from the border area.  Turkey is also still reeling from a failed July 15 coup. One of the main cities of central Turkey, Kayseri is a key industrial hub with a population of over one million and a stronghold of Turkish nationalists. The city lies close to the famous landscapes of Cappadocia, a magnet for tourists around the world.
It is well west of the southeast of the country that has been hit by months of deadly fighting between the PKK and the security forces.
Following the bombing, dozens of protestors stormed the offices of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Kayseri.— AFP