Conflicting claims by Kurds, Turkish govt. over deadly Ankara bombing

TerrorismConflicting claims by Kurds, Turkish govt. over deadly Ankara bombing

Published 22 February 2016

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), a Kurdish militant group once linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers party (PKK), has claimed responsibility for the bombing in the Turkish capital of Ankara that killed twenty-eight people. The claim was made on the groups’ Web site. On Thursday, the Turkish government said the attack was carried out by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish militia affiliated with the PKK. YPG has been supported by the United States and has made considerable gains in fighting ISIS in northern Syria.

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), a Kurdish militant group once linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers party (PKK), has claimed responsibility for the bombing in the Turkish capital of Ankara that killed twenty-eight people. The claim was made on the groups’ Web site.

TAK said the bombing was in response to aggressive security operations by the Turkish military the Kurdish areas in south-east Turkey. TAK said its attacks will continue.

Reuters reports that TAK claimed the bomber who detonated the suicide truck was Abdulbaki Sönmez, a 26-year-old Turkish national born in the eastern city of Van.

On Thursday, the Turkish government said the perpetrator had been identified as Saleh Necar, a 24-year-old Syrian national with ties to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish militia affiliated with the PKK. YPG has been supported by the United States and has made considerable gains in fighting ISIS in northern Syria.

The contradictory claims may be explained by regional politics: The Kurds want to portray actions against the Turkish regime as an internal Turkish issues related to what they describe as the government’s oppressive anti-Kurdish policies. The Turkish government, on the other hand, wants to highlight what it considers to be the risk of allowing the Syrian Kurds too much political freedom – let alone the ability to create an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria. The Turkish government is worried that the Syrian Kurds, if given autonomy, would use it as a platform from which to incite and mobilize Turkish Kurds to seek greater freedom from Turkey.

TAK denies any connection to the PKK, but Turkish officials insist the group still acts as the armed wing of the PKK. Both the PKK and TAK are considered terrorist organizations by Turkey, the United States, and the EU.

TAK has claimed responsibility to several terrorist attacks on the Turkish military and police forces in the last five years.

In December the group used mortars to attack an airport near Ankara. After the attack, TAK threatened more attacks: “From now on the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development party] and its collaborators won’t be able to live in a fascist dictatorship so comfortably in their own city. As of now, we won’t be responsible for the safety of international airlines that fly to Turkey, or for foreign tourists,” TAK wrote on its Web site.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan charged on Friday that the YPG – which Turkey blames for the attack – used U.S.-supplied weapons in the deadly attack, and said he would raise the issue with President Barack Obama. “I will tell him, ‘Look at how and where those weapons you provided were fired’,” he told reporters in Istanbul.

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