Turkey points finger at Kurdish rebels over Ankara bombing

ANKARA: Turkey blamed Kurdish rebels for a suicide car bombing that killed 35 people in Ankara, the latest in a series of attacks that has raised concerns about security in the country.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the Sunday evening blast, which reduced cars and buses to charred husks on a busy road in the heart of the city, wounding more than 120 people.

But Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said “serious, almost certain findings” from the investigation pointed to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and vowed to “take any step required to defend this country”.

Officials say that of the 37 people killed in the blast, 35 have now been identified as victims, one was a female suicide bomber and one a man thought to have been her accomplice.

In February a car bombing along very similar lines targeted military personnel in a nearby area of Ankara, killing 29 people.

A second attack so soon afterwards in the centre of the Turkish capital will add to security fears as Turkey grapples with the twin threat of Kurdish rebels and the Islamic State (IS) group.

The February attack was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), linked to the PKK, as revenge for Turkish military operations in the southeast. The TAK warned of more attacks to come, including on tourist areas.

Turkey has in recent months waged an all-out assault on the PKK, which launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, fighting for greater autonomy and rights for the country’s largest ethnic minority.

“There are very serious, almost certain findings that point to the separatist terrorist organisation,” Davutoglu told reporters after visiting the wounded at an Ankara hospital, referring to the PKK.

Authorities have detained 11 people over the attack, Davutoglu said, while Turkish jets bombed PKK targets in northern Iraq on Monday, just hours after the blast.

Mourners wept as the first of the victims were laid to rest on Monday, some in coffins draped with the scarlet Turkish flag.

The country has been hit by a string of major attacks since the middle of last year, most of them blamed on IS, which controls large areas of Turkey’s southern neighbour Syria.

Three have targeted Ankara, including a double suicide bombing in October that left 103 people dead. AFP