Ankara: A car bomb attack on a bus carrying off-duty military personnel killed 13 soldiers and wounded 55 in the central Turkish city of Kayseri today, an incident President Tayyip Erdogan blamed on Kurdish terrorists.
The blast, a week after deadly twin bombing targeted police in Istanbul, is likely to further outrage a public angered by a series of attacks this year – several claimed by Kurdish terrorists, others by ISIS – and a failed coup in July.
It is also likely to increase tension in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, where terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have waged a three-decade violent insurgency that has seen some of its worst fighting in the last year.
“The style and goals of the attacks clearly show the aim of the separatist terrorist organisation is to trip up Turkey, cut its strength and have it focus its energy and forces elsewhere,” President Erdogan said in a statement.
“We know that these attacks we are being subjected to are not independent from the developments in our region, especially in Iraq and Syria.”
President Erdogan frequently refers to the PKK as “the separatist terrorist organisation”. The PKK, which wants autonomy for the Kurdish minority, is considered a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.
Turkey, a NATO member and part of the US coalition against ISIS, has also been angered by Washington’s backing of the Syrian Kurdish fighters against ISIS.
Ankara sees the Washington-backed militia as an extension of the PKK and is worried the advance of Kurdish fighters across its borders in Syria and in Iraq, could inflame Kurdish terrorists at home.
President Erdogan confirmed that 13 people had been killed and 55 wounded