An attack with an explosives-laden truck targeting a police checkpoint in Cizre, south-east Turkey has killed at least 11 police officers and wounded 78 other people and left the nearby headquarters of the special anti-riot police force in the town completely destroyed.
The health ministry said it had sent a dozen ambulances and two helicopters to the site.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said: “We will give those vile (attackers) the answer they deserve.
“No terrorist organisation can hold Turkey captive.”
Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings, authorities have blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) which they later confirmed according to a website linked to the organization.
The PKK launched its insurgency in 1984, alleging widespread abuse and discrimination against the, now 20 to 25 million Kurds, who make up 18% of the population, by Turkish authorities. The movement has been fighting for autonomy in the southeast of the country for decades and has, especially in Turkey’s view, sister organisations in Iraq, and especially in Syria both of which border Sirnak province where Cizre is located. The province has a largely Kurdish population and the area has been rocked by violence since a two-and-a-half year ceasefire between the Turkish government and the PKK collapsed in July 2015. Hundreds of security force members have been killed since.
Fighting in and around Cizre has been particularly fierce in recent months. Most of the town’s 120,000 residents fled, but Kurdish activists said that some civilians trapped in besieged neighbourhoods have also been killed in heavy fighting during which many buildings were reduced to rubble. Cizre has often been under curfew as a result although The UN and human rights organisations have demanded an investigation into allegations that more than 100 people were burned to death while sheltering in basements in Cizre during one of those curfews. The Turkish government has rejected allegations that it targeted civilians.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has regularly condemned violence on both sides. However Turkey’s government accuses the HDP of being tied to the PKK, and this month prosecutors indicted at least three of its leaders, accusing the party of praising the PKK’s jailed leader. The HDP denies it is linked to militancy and calls on Ankara to resume negotiations with Kurdish insurgency leaders however the conflict shows no sign of abating and the government has ruled out any negotiations until the group completely disarms.
As well as fighting the PKK, Turkey is battling Isis, who have carried out a series of deadly attacks, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in south-east Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul’s main airport in June, which killed 44.
The bombing comes a day after suspected PKK gunmen targeted the convoy of opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the Black Sea province of Arvin which left the politician unharmed and came two days after after US-backed Turkish special forces launched an incursion into Syria to help Syrian rebels retake key Isis-held town, Jarablus. However the Turkish operation wasn’t authorized by the Syrian government
President Tayyip Erdogan has said the operation is aimed both at driving so-called Islamic State away from the border area and preventing territorial gains by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey views as an extension of the PKK.
Kurdish YPG command has denounced the offensive, saying Turkey is targeting the Kurds “more than Isis.”
Ankara has decided to keep journalists and independent observers out of Cizre, perhaps because drawing attention to the attack may also reveal the extent to which the Kurdish town has been damaged by fighting.
The attack was condemned by foreign diplomats and countries, both through social media and in official statements.
The bomb-laden vehicle suicide attack by outlawed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which killed 11 police officers and wounded 78 people in the Cizre district of the southeastern province of Şırnak was condemned by foreign diplomats and countries on Aug. 26, both through social media and in official statements.
In a statement released by the official website of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Ambassador John Bass said: “We condemn this morning’s horrific terrorist attack in Cizre. We grieve with the people of Turkey, our NATO ally, and we reaffirm our shared commitment to defeating terrorism.”
Qatar and Pakistan have also issued statements since the Cizre attack, in which they stressed their condemnation for the deadly act and conveyed their solidarity with Turkey in its fight against terror.