Twenty detained after Kurdish terror attack in Turkey

Raids focused on people who 'collected aid' for PKK, Interior Minister said

Turkey said Muzdelif Taskin, circled, a PKK member, had been 'neutralised'. Photo: Anadolu
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Turkish counter-terrorism police have carried out raids and apprehended 20 people linked to Kurdish militants a day after a suicide attack in Ankara, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said the raids were focused on people who “collected aid” for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and “created safe houses” where members could take shelter.

Police visited 26 addresses in 11 districts in Ankara and the western city of Kirklareli on Monday, Mr Yerlikaya said.

He said those arrested included members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party.

Also on Monday, Turkey launched overnight drone strikes on Kurdish targets in Qamishli, northern Syria, hours after its warplanes bombed Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, the Turkish Defence Ministry said.

The strikes in Iraq and Syria followed the suicide bombing in Ankara on Sunday that was claimed by the PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency. Both attackers were killed and two police officers wounded.

The Defence Ministry said the strikes in Syria “neutralised” Muzdelif Taskin, a PKK member accused of planning an ambush that killed 12 Turkish soldiers in 2007.

Sunday's strikes in Iraq destroyed 20 targets, “consisting of caves, bunkers, shelters and depots used by the separatist terrorist organisation”, and also “neutralised” Kurdish militants, the ministry said.

It said it would continue the attacks in northern Iraq until “there is not a single terrorist left”.

Iraq condemned Turkish airstrikes and the presence of Turkish military bases in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Iraq's President Abdul Latif Rashid said he hopes to work with Ankara to resolve this issue.

"These violations are rejected by the Iraqi people, the (Kurdistan) region and all of Iraq's inhabitants," Mr Rashid said in an interview with Saudi-owned television network Al Hadath. It was unclear whether the interview was filmed before or after Sunday's strikes.

The Iraqi president said that civilians are sometimes killed in these strikes including innocent people visiting the region who "become victims of Turkish bombing".

Mr Rashid is a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and has previously summoned the Turkish ambassador to Iraq over similar manoeuvres by Ankara.

Turkey, which along with its western allies considers the PKK a terrorist organisation, accused the group of a bombing in Istanbul last November that killed six people. The PKK denied involvement and called for an international investigation.

Turkey's intelligence organisation, MIT, last week hit targets in the Sulaimaniya province of Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported.

The PKK was adopting “alternative strategies” and was increasing efforts to hire more recruits, Anadolu reported, citing a security source.

“The terror group's latest strategy involves transporting terrorists to Europe and then bringing them back to Iraq and Syria,” Anadolu said, citing the source.

Kurdish news outlet Rudaw said a 57-year-old woman was among those killed in Wednesday's attack by Turkish drones on the village of Bokreskan.

The woman's daughter and husband were wounded as well, Rudaw reported, citing a witness from the village.

More attacks

Speaking to The National from Turkey, a senior UAE-based analyst said Sunday's strikes on northern Iraq could be a prelude to a bigger, “cleansing” incursion in northern Syria involving air strikes.

“The PKK has been launching attacks in Turkey for decades and Turkey has been striking back as well,” he said.

“Turkey has gained a lot of experience over the years in both day and night-time operations and precision strikes in rough terrain, mountainous areas.

“However, there is speculation and reports that Turkey will launch more attacks on PKK targets in northern Syria to eradicate pockets that have remained under PKK control.”

The analyst said Turkey had to consider its current dealings with Russia before launching an offensive in Syria, where Moscow is backing President Bashar Al Assad.

“Turkey is trying to maintain a delicate balance, given its relationship with Russia at the moment,” he said.

Ankara is seeking to reach a deal with Moscow to allow the safe shipment of grain through the Black Sea as the war between Russia and Ukraine, two of the world's biggest suppliers, continues.

Updated: October 02, 2023, 2:43 PM