After Ankara Bombing, Turkey Hits Back in Iraq and at Home

After Ankara Bombing, Turkey Hits Back in Iraq and at Home
Police officers secure an area near the Interior Ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, Turkey, on Oct. 1, 2023. (Cagla Gurdogan/Reuters)

ISTANBUL—Turkey said it unleashed air strikes on terrorist targets in northern Iraq and detained suspects in Istanbul, hours after Kurdish terrorists said they orchestrated the first bomb attack in years in the capital Ankara.

On Oct. 1, two attackers detonated a bomb near government buildings in Ankara, killing them both and wounding two police officers. The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorist group claimed responsibility.

The defense ministry said many terrorists were "neutralized," a term mostly used to mean killed, in air strikes that destroyed 20 targets—caves, shelters, and depots used by the PKK in Iraq's Metina, Hakurk, Qandil, and Gara regions.

Turkey has stepped up military action against the PKK in northern Iraq over the past few years in operations it says are conducted under self-defense rights arising from Article 51 of the United Nations charter.

Iraqi President Abdul-Latif Rashid said in comments aired on Oct. 2 that Iraq rejected repeated Turkish air strikes or the presence of Turkish bases in its Kurdistan region and hoped to come to an agreement with Ankara to solve the problem.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. It launched an insurgency in southeast Turkey in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The bomb killed one attacker and security forces killed the other, the interior minister said. The blast rattled a district that is home to government offices and the parliament, in an attack coinciding with the reopening of the assembly.

One attacker was identified as a PKK member and work was continuing on identifying the other individual, an interior ministry statement said, adding that explosives, grenades, a rocket launcher, and various guns were seized at the scene.

It said the attackers had hijacked the vehicle and killed its driver in Kayseri, a city that's 260 km (161 miles) southeast of Ankara.

Police Raids

Counterterrorism police have since detained 20 people in raids targeting PKK-linked suspects in Istanbul and elsewhere, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on Oct. 2.

A provincial Kurdish spokesman and district heads of a large pro-Kurdish political party were among those detained, suspected of collecting aid and providing shelter for PKK members, Mr. Yerlikaya said on messaging platform X.

The ANF News website, which is close to the PKK, cited the terrorist group as saying in a statement that a team from its Immortals Battalion unit had carried out the attack.

The bomb on Ataturk Boulevard was the first in Ankara since 2016, when a spate of attacks in Turkish cities was claimed by Kurdish terrorists, the ISIS terrorist group, and other groups.

Turkey's armed forces have in recent years conducted several large-scale military operations in northern Iraq and northern Syria against Kurdish terrorists.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament on Oct. 1 that Turkey would maintain its strategy of a 30-km (19-mile) deep "security strip" beyond its southern borders with Syria and Iraq, and that "new steps" on this were a matter of time.

Asked whether Mr. Erdogan's comments signaled plans for a new larger-scale cross-border operation into Syria, Defense Minister Yasar Guler told reporters at a reception in parliament that the president didn't say "anything new."

Related Topics