The Turkish authorities have arrested 46 suspected Kurdish militants over the explosion in central Istanbul on Sunday that killed at least six people and left 81 wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast but Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Soylu told reporters today that “our assessment is that the order for the deadly terror attack came from Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria”, where the militant group is thought to have its Syrian headquarters.

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The PKK has “kept up a campaign for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s and is designated a terrorist group” by Turkey, the EU and the US, said Al Jazeera. Istanbul and other Turkish cities have been targeted repeatedly by Kurdish separatists, with a series of attacks in 2015 and 2016.

The PKK group had also played a part in the response to Finland and Sweden’s applications to join Nato, after Turkey objected to plans to fast-track their membership, demanding that the two Nordic countries renounce their support for Kurdish “terrorist” organisations.

According to Al Jazeera, “a three-year-old girl and her father” were among those killed in yesterday’s attack in Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue, “a popular shopping and tourism spot”. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the explosion “smells like terrorism” and that initial information suggested a “woman had played a part”.

A woman was reported to have “sat on a bench in the area for more than 40 minutes, leaving just minutes before the blast took place”, said the BBC. Images shown on television news appeared to show a woman leaving a package below a raised flower bed. 

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Source:: The Week – All news


Turkish government blames Kurdish separatists for Istanbul bombing

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