Five dead in Turkey bombing blamed on Kurdish rebels

People carry an injured man from Midyat Police station after an explosion on June 8, 2016 in Midyat, southeast Turkey. Three people were killed and dozens injured in a car bombing on June 8, 2016 at a police station in southeast Turkey, a day before 11 people were killed in an attack on police in Istanbul. / AFP PHOTO / STR

People carry an injured man from Midyat Police station after an explosion on June 8, 2016 in Midyat, southeast Turkey.
Three people were killed and dozens injured in a car bombing on June 8, 2016 at a police station in southeast Turkey, a day before 11 people were killed in an attack on police in Istanbul. / AFP PHOTO

Five people including a pregnant policewoman were killed in a car bombing Wednesday in Kurdish majority southeastern Turkey, a day after a deadly attack hit Istanbul.

Both bombings targeted Turkish police and have been blamed on Kurdish rebels waging a decades-long insurgency against the state.

A massive plume of black smoke rose from the rubble of the police station after Wednesday’s attack in the town of Midyat near the Syrian border.

A spokesman for the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, said it was too early to attribute blame but Prime Minister Binali Yildirim blamed the “killer PKK”, referring to the outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

“We will fight them both in urban centres and rural areas with determination,” he said.

The Anatolia news agency said dead included two police officers, including a pregnant woman. At least 51 people were injured.

The car — loaded with half a tonne of explosives — drove at the Midyat police station and blew up when police opened fire to stop it, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Turkey remains on high alert after multiple attacks on its soil that have killed well over 200 people in the past year and have been blamed on, or claimed by, Kurdish rebels and Islamic State (IS) jihadists.

On Tuesday, a car bombing in the heart of Istanbul killed 11 people, including six police officers and five civilians, the latest in a spate of attacks in Turkey’s largest city.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pointed the finger at Kurdish militants for that attack.

“Thousands of heroes” were ready to “defend their people and their country with their lives” against “terrorists”, he said in Ankara on Wednesday.

– ‘Damn terror’ –

Yildirim, along with former president Abdullah Gul and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu attended the funeral Wednesday of the slain Istanbul police officers.

Their coffins were draped with red and white Turkish flags as mourners shouted: “Damn terror” and “Martyrs never die and the homeland will never be divided.”

A group of mourners staged a protest against Kilicdaroglu, who heads the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), tearing up a wreath he had laid for the victims.

“You are a killer!” they shouted.

Kilicdaroglu has been accused in some quarters of failing to give enough support to the government’s Kurdish policy.

The CHP leader lashed out at what he termed a couple of “provocateurs” after the prayers and said one of them hurled a bullet at him before being detained by a plainclothes officer.

Yildirim visited the scene of Tuesday’s attack in Istanbul’s Beyazit district and spoke with shopkeepers. European Union member states’ consuls laid flowers at the site.

Turkey has been on edge for months after a string of deadly attacks by Islamic State jihadists and Kurdish militants.

A radical splinter group of the PKK, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), claimed responsibility for two bombings in Ankara earlier this year that killed dozens of people.

– ‘Cleansing’ operation –

Violence flared again last year between Kurdish rebels and government forces, shattering a 2013 ceasefire reached after secret talks between PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish state.

Turkey has been waging an intense offensive against the PKK, deploying tanks in several towns in the southeast in recent months to “cleanse” them of rebel elements.

Activists have accused the security forces of causing huge destruction and killing civilians.

But the government says the operations are essential for public safety, blaming the PKK — listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies — for the damage.

Erdogan late Tuesday signed into law a reform lifting immunity for lawmakers, in a move critics believe is aimed at evicting pro-Kurdish MPs from parliament.

His government sees the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) as a political front for the PKK.

Over 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK took up arms in 1984 demanding an independent state for Kurds. Since then the group has narrowed its demands to greater autonomy and cultural rights.

NATO-member Turkey is also a member of the US-led coalition fighting the IS group, which controls large swathes of territory in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

Ankara blames the jihadists for two suicide blasts in Istanbul this year, in which a total of 15 tourists were killed.

Ankara, Turkey | AFP |

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