Suicide bombers spread fear in Turkey
ISTANBUL - Suicide bombers targeting security forces and civilians are spreading fear in Turkey. Reports say police identified a woman from the mainly Kurdish south-east as the perpetrator of a blast that killed 11 people in downtown Istanbul.
The woman tried to drive a car packed with explosives between two police buses in the Vezneciler district, close to the city’s Grand Bazaar on June 7th, the reports said. When that failed, she moved in front of the first bus and triggered the bomb.
The government says Kurdish extremists are behind the carnage, the fifth major attack in Turkey this year, all of which have been carried out by suicide bombers, albeit from different militant groups.
The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), claimed responsibility for killing almost 70 people in car bomb attacks in Ankara, in February and March. Suicide bombers of the Islamic State (ISIS) are thought to have been behind attacks that killed 12 German, three Israeli and one Iranian tourists in Istanbul in January and March.
Another suicide bomber, also identified as a PKK supporter, set off her device in the north-western city of Bursa in April, wounding almost 30 people. Last October, ISIS suicide bombers killed more than 100 people at a rally of Kurdish and leftist groups in central Ankara. In July 2015, another ISIS militant bombed a meeting of activists on the Syrian border, killing 33 people.
Apart from the PKK and ISIS, leftist extremists of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) have used suicide bombers to attack Turkish police stations and foreign interests, such as the US embassy in Ankara.
The surge of bombings started as a fallout of the Syrian conflict and as a result of a breakdown in peace talks between the Turkish state and the PKK last year.
Turkish police are on a constant hunt to find suicide bombers before they can strike. Police killed two suspected PKK members in a raid in April that yielded weapons, explosives and two suicide vests. Three suicide vests with plastic explosives were found June 9th at a roadside in the southern province of Mersin.
Reports said ISIS was trying to move suicide bombers and equipment over the Syrian border into Turkey. In February, Turkish soldiers arrested 34 people at the border who carried among them four suicide vests with 15 kg of explosives.