Turkey Blames Deadly Ankara Blast On Kurdish Militants

Kurds fiercely rejected the claim and accused Turkish officials of lying

A family member of Wednesday's car bombing victims is comforted. — REUTERS
Feb 18, 2016 at 6:20 AM ET

Turkey’s prime minister said a Syria-based Kurdish militia was behind a deadly Wednesday car bombing in the country’s capital—a claim fiercely rejected by Kurds, who accused Turkish officials of lying.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said a Syrian national who is a member of the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) collaborated with Kurdish rebels inside Turkey to carry out Wednesday’s attack, which targeted military personnel in Ankara and killed at least 28 people.

More Deadly Explosion In Ankara, At Least 28 Killed

Syrian Kurds denied the accusation. “We are not related to the Ankara bombing and we do not intervene in internal Turkish issues,” tweeted Saleh Muslim, chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, whose militant wing is the YPG. Both the party and the YPG are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey has been battling.

Muslim declared that blaming the Ankara attack on the Kurds is an effort by Turkey’s president to divert attention away from the failure of his internal and policies, and serves as an excuse for Turkey to enter a Kurdish portion of Syria on the Turkish border known as Rojava.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party released a video condemning the Ankara blast, saying: “We strongly condemn the targeting of unarmed civilians in Ankara, and call upon the forces that carried out this non-human action whatsoever to stop these acts of terror.”

As the confrontation escalated, a remotely-detonated bomb on Thursday struck a military convoy in southeast Turkey, killing at least six people. The attack took place not long after Turkish warplanes overnight struck Kurdish PKK militant camps in northern Iraq, in the aftermath of Wednesday’s suicide bombing, security sources told Reuters.

On Thursday, Turkey’s Prime Minister Davutoğlu said authorities inside the country had arrested nine people in connection to the Ankara blast, and vowed to retaliate. He urged the nation’s allies to drop support for Kurdish militias in Syria.

Kurds took to social media to make their own accusation: that Turkish authorities are lying about who was behind Wednesday’s suicide bombing. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The developments are the latest in a decades-old conflict between Turkey and the Kurds that dates back to the 1980s. A peace process launched in 2013, but it broke down in July, leading to a spike in regional violence.