Turkey PM: Ankara Bomber Syrian With Kurdish Links
by VOA News February 18, 2016
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is blaming the Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, for killing 28 people in a car bombing of a military convoy Wednesday in Ankara.
In a televised speech Thursday, Davutoglu said the attack was carried out by the PKK Kurdish separatist group 'together with a person who sneaked into Turkey from Syria.'
Davutoglu said the Syrian man was a member of the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish rebel group. Turkey considers both the YPG and the PKK to be terrorist organizations.
He also appealed for international support against the YPG, an apparent reference to the U.S., which has backed the group in the battle against Islamic State militants.
A spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish group denied any involvement.
"These accusations are baseless. This is a lie. We have no connection to the Ankara bombing. Turkey wants to use the YPG as a pretext to intervene in Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] and Syria," Redur Khalil told VOA.
The car bomb targeted a convoy of military buses in the Turkish capital, just a few hundred meters from parliament and military headquarters.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Turkey has seen similar attacks by both Islamic State and Kurdish separatist forces in recent months.
Davutoglu said that nine people have been detained in connection with the attack.
Speaking shortly after Davutoglu, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would reveal evidence proving the YPG's involvement in the attack, adding 'those who support them will be judged by history.'
The pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper said Thursday the assailant had been registered as a refugee in Turkey and was identified by his fingerprints.
A report in another pro-government newspaper, Sabah, said the man had links to the PKK insurgent group, which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey.
Hours after the attack, Turkey's air force launched fresh strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, according to the Turkish military, which said it was targeting 60-70 of the group's fighters.
'Turkey will not shy away'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday vowed a firm response to the attack, which he said exceeds 'all moral and humane boundaries.'
'Turkey will not shy away from using its right to self-defense at any time, any place or any occasion,' Erdoğan said.
The attack prompted Erdoğan to put off a planned visit to Azerbaijan. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu canceled his trip to Brussels, where he was to have talked about the refugee crisis with other European leaders.
The U.S., a key ally of Turkey, condemned the attack 'in the strongest terms,' according to a statement by National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price.
'We stand together with Turkey, a NATO ally, a strong partner, and a valued member of the Counter-ISIL coalition, in the face of this attack and pledge our ongoing cooperation and support in the fight against terrorism,' the statement read.
Pentagon chief Ash Carter also reaffirmed the U.S. relationship with Turkey. In a statement, Carter condemned the 'cowardly' attack, which he said 'only strengthens our resolve to deepen our ongoing cooperation in the fight against terrorism.'
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes the perpetrators of the attack 'will be swiftly brought to justice.'
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also condemned Wednesday's bombing, saying there can be no justification for such horrific acts.
Islamic State was blamed for last October's suicide bombing at a peace rally in Ankara which killed more than 100 people -- the bloodiest single terrorist attack since Turkey became a modern state in 1923.
Turkey has also been battling the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party which has been fighting a 30-year guerilla war for more Kurdish autonomy. The Turkish military has been a frequent target of the militants.
Dorian Jones contributed to this report from Istanbul
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