Officials in Turkey are placing the blame for a deadly car bomb blast in the nation’s capital of Ankara Wednesday on militant Kurds, saying the republic would retaliate for the suicide attack targeted at Turkish military staff.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the bombing was carried out by a Syrian national named Salih Neccar, who was connected to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant rebel group based in the Kurdistan region, which includes parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
The blast, which came during rush hour on Wednesday, killed 28 people and injured around 60 only four months after another suicide bombing at an Ankara peace rally left more than 80 people dead.
In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “All necessary measures will be taken ... anywhere and under any circumstances,” according to the country’s state-run news service Anadolu Agency. “No attack against Turkey has been left unanswered,” he added.
“All those who intend to use terror pawns against Turkey must know that [playing] this game of terror will hit them like a boomerang,” he said.
Davutoglu also said that a member of the People's Protection Units (YPG) – a militant branch of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish political group – joined Neccar in crossing from Syria to Turkey and carrying out the attack.
“It has been determined with certainty that this attack was carried out by members of the separatist terror organization together with a member of the YPG who infiltrated from Syria,” he said Thursday.
A YPG statement announced that the group had no connection to the bombing. PYD co-chairman Salih Muslim Muhammad denied his group’s involvement with the incident while “completely refuting” Turkey’s claim, and PKK leader Cemil Bayık reportedly said that “We don't know who carried out this act,” although he suggested independent Kurdish militants may have planned the attack.
Mr. Erdoğan still placed blame on the Kurds, and said that more than a dozen people have been arrested so far in connection with the attack.
“Despite the fact that their leader says they have nothing to do with this, the information and documents obtained by our Interior Ministry and all our intelligence organizations shows that [the attack] was theirs,” Erdoğan said. “It is out of the question for us to excuse a terror organization that threatens the capital of our country,” he added.
Turkey’s accusation of the Kurdish groups comes as Ankara continues to send airstrikes at PYD and YPG targets near the Turkish-Syrian border, where the Kurdish militia have increased their operations. While Turkey remains at odds with the Kurds, those groups are still receiving support from the United States in Syria for their fight against Islamic State forces there. Turkey’s assertion that the YPG was involved in the terror attack could stress its relations with the US over its links to the group, but also may alienate the YPG from US officials.
“It will be interesting to see how the United States reacts because they view the YPG as an ally,” said Paul Levin, the director of Stockholm University’s Turkish Studies institute. “Will [the United States] shift their view on YPG?”
After the suicide attack Wednesday, Turkey also began directing airstrikes at PKK camps in Iraq and announced it will continue bombing YPG positions. The PKK was also reported to be responsible for a Thursday bombing in southeastern Turkey that killed six soldiers, according to Anadolu Agency.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.