News / Europe

    Turkey to Intensify Crackdown on PKK in Retaliation for Bombing

    People visit the site of the Obelisk of Theodosius where Tuesday's suicide bomb attack took place at Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 14, 2016.
    People visit the site of the Obelisk of Theodosius where Tuesday's suicide bomb attack took place at Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 14, 2016.
    Ken Bredemeier

    Turkey's president said Thursday that military operations would intensify against PKK Kurdish rebels after the group was blamed for a car bombing of a police headquarters, and he promised there would no end to the military operations until the group was eradicated.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke in response to the bombing of the police headquarters Wednesday in Diyarbakir province in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. The region is at the center of a major security crackdown, which local human rights groups say has led to more than 200 civilian deaths, including children and the elderly.

    Erdogan also criticized the more than 1,000 academics who in a petition this week condemned the crackdown and called for a resumption of a peace process with the PKK. He said the petitioners had spewed hatred against their state and nation by publicly taking sides with the terror organization.

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced Thursday that the army had carried out a sustained bombardment against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, killing 200 militants, in response to a suicide attack that killed 10 German tourists Tuesday in Istanbul.

    Davutoglu said Turkish forces hit 500 IS targets with artillery and tank fire along the border with Syria and near a Turkish camp in northern Iraq. He said the attacks had been carried out within the last 48 hours.

    Davutoglu told a conference of Turkish ambassadors in Ankara that if necessary, Turkey would also launch air attacks against the insurgents and maintain a "determined stance" against IS fighters until they leave the border areas. However, Turkey's warplanes have not flown in Syrian airspace since a Turkish pilot shot down a Russian fighter jet in late November.

    Davutoglu vowed that "every threat directed at Turkey will be punished in kind." He also promised retaliation against any threat directed at what he called "Turkey's guests."

    Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, right, accompanied by his wife Sare, visit the site of Tuesday's explosion, in the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016.
    Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, right, accompanied by his wife Sare, visit the site of Tuesday's explosion, in the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016.

    Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said authorities had arrested seven suspects, three of them Russian nationals, in connection with the suicide bombing. The attack occurred in Sultanahmet Square, home to Turkey's most visited historic sites, such as the Ottoman-era Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, once a Byzantine church, then a mosque and now a museum.

    In addition to the 10 killed in the attack, another 15 people were wounded, most of them Germans.

    Turkish authorities said the attack was carried out by a Syrian member of Islamic State, Nabil Fadli, 28, who had recently entered Turkey from Syria as a refugee but was not on Ankara's watch list of suspected terrorists.

    Few details of the Russian arrests have been given, but observers suggest there could be a Chechen connection, since many jihadists fighting in Syria are linked to the conflict in the Russian state of Chechnya.

    Turkey remains one of the main transit countries for jihadists going to Syria.

    The Turkish interior minister said everything possible was being done to stop the jihadists, announcing that 36,000 people from 124 countries were now on Turkey's no-entry list.   

    In addition, over the last few days, Turkey has detained more than 70 suspected IS members, although it was not clear whether they had any connection to the suicide bombing in Istanbul.

    VOA's Doran Jones contributed to this report from Istanbul.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: mark
    January 17, 2016 4:48 PM
    Turkey is a safe haven for isis, but dont forget they "isis" have to make it look like they are not with turkey so they have to mix the soup once in awhile, making us or at least trying to make us beleive that the brainwashed isis are not with turkey

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    January 14, 2016 1:16 PM
    It's a shame that USA/NATO/EU see Turkey as one of them. If Turkey’d all this force to deal with ISIS and Obama’s failed to harness it; if Turkey’s had this free flow with ISIS and neither Europe nor NATO’s doing anything about it instead of looking for closer alliance with it; if Turkey only fights back because a faction of ISIS struck at its target in Turkey, then no one’s ready for peace in the Middle-East, and the Obama administration's shuttle diplomacy in the region a deceit.

    This isn’t the first time this is happening, and all we saw was simply a spark in a teacup; Turkey struck ISIS just to warn it off its borders, seemingly saying it didn’t care what ISIS did with the rest of the region. Think Turkey does this as a way to encourage ISIS destabilization of the region to pave its way to the top above Saudi Arabia and Iran which are the kings and kingmakers of the grossly Islamic enclave. We can deduce from all of this that the region is in turmoil because USA/EU/NATO want it so.

    If they want it otherwise, they know what button to press – Turkey – and the cacophony’ll disappear.
    In Response

    by: GOKCE KAVAK from: Turkey
    January 15, 2016 8:10 PM
    I think Turkey is making its policy true if there are some nasty policies in somewhere. And I don't find Turkey and the government to sympathise with the previous Turkish governments, Turkey does continue to show reunion with the west.

    by: GregP from: Boston
    January 14, 2016 11:48 AM
    "Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkish forces hit 500 Islamic State targets with artillery and tank fire along its border with Syria and near a Turkish camp in northern Iraq. He said the attacks had been carried out within the last 48 hours."

    Why isn't Turkey doing this anyway? Why only in retaliation for an attack? I thought defeating ISIS was a goal regardless, so why have these targets been untouched until now?
    In Response

    by: Matt from: DC
    January 14, 2016 12:57 PM
    Assad more than once said Turkey will reap what it sows. He said Turkey let all the ISIS people in to fight me, but they will eventually turn the weapons on Turkey. The man is not a visionary because everyone outside of Turkey saw it coming but he was the only one to say it. Well Turkey...shut up and bit the bullets! Oh, in this case, the same bomb you gave ISIS to destroy Syria is not blowing you up!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    January 14, 2016 12:03 PM
    Turkey supports ISIS (known fact and common knowledge by now), so ISIS doesn't target Turkey. But if a faction of ISIS decides to target Turkey, then Turkey targets that faction.

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