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Suspected Ankara bomber was female PKK member: Turkey officials

world Updated: Mar 14, 2016 14:37 IST
Ankara suicide attack

Forensic experts investigate the scene of an explosion the day after a suicide car bomb ripped through a busy square in central Ankara, killing at least 37 people and wounding 125.(AFP Photo)

Evidence shows that one of two suspected perpetrators of a car bomb attack which killed 37 people in the Turkish capital Ankara was a woman who joined the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group in 2013, security officials said on Monday.

They identified the woman as having been born in 1992 and being from the eastern Turkish city of Kars.

The government has said it expects to officially identify the organisation behind the attack later on Monday.

In its armed campaign in Turkey, the PKK has historically struck directly at the security forces and says it does not target civilians. A direct claim of responsibility for Sunday’s bombing would indicate a major tactical shift.

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) claimed responsibility for the previous car bombing, just a few blocks away, on February 17.

TAK said it has split from the PKK, although experts who study Kurdish militants say the two organisations are affiliated.

On February 17, a suicide car-bombing in the capital targeted buses carrying military personnel, killing 29 people.

Turkey declared a round-the-clock curfew in the southeastern town of Sirnak on Monday to carry out operations against Kurdish militants in the area, the provincial governor’s office said in a statement.

It said the curfew will go into effect at 11pm (2100 GMT) on Monday. Security forces have been carrying out operations in the mainly Kurdish southeast, where months of conflict have devastated much of the region.

Separately, Kurdish warplanes bombed camps belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq early on Monday, the army said, following the suicide attack in Ankara.

Police, firefighters and emergency services work at the site of a blast in Ankara on March 13, 2016. (AFP Photo)

Police meanwhile carried out raids in the southern city of Adana, detaining suspected rebels of the PKK. The private Dogan news agency said at least 36 suspects were taken under custody.

It was the second deadly attack blamed on Kurdish militants in the capital in the past month and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to bring “terrorism to its knees.”

Sunday’s blast came as Turkey’s security forces were set to launch large-scale operations against militants in two mainly Kurdish towns — Yuksekova, near the border with Iraq and in Nusaybin, which borders Syria — after authorities imposed curfews there, prompting residents to flee. The military deployed large numbers of tanks near the towns as the curfews were announced.