Suspected Kurdish militant attack raises fear of new violence in Turkey

If confirmed, the attack would be the deadliest PKK attack this year.
Wednesday 08/04/2020
A 2016 file picture shows a man looking out from his flat near an explosion site after a blast in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. (AFP)
Cycle of violence. A 2016 file picture shows a man looking out from his flat near an explosion site after a blast in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. (AFP)

ISTANBUL--A deadly attack bearing the hallmarks of Kurdish separatists raised fears April 8 of new violence in Turkey’s south-east after a period of relative calm.

 Five civilians were killed when their car was hit by a bomb in south-eastern Anatolia. The governor of Kurdish-majority Diyarbakir province said the attack was carried out by “members of the PKK terror organisation,” referring to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

No organisation claimed responsibility for the attack but the way the perpetrators struck — detonating a roadside bomb as a car carrying forest workers drove by — as well as the area in Diyarbakir province pointed to the PKK.

 If confirmed, the attack would be the deadliest PKK attack this year. Last month the group said it blew up a gas pipeline near Turkey’s border with Iran.

 The PKK has fought for Kurdish self-rule in an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies. Since 2016, Turkey has sent soldiers into neighbouring Syria on three separate incursions to push the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), away from the border. Turkish jets have pounded PKK positions in northern Iraq, where the group has its headquarters.

 Members of Turkey’s security forces are a primary aim for PKK attacks, but the group has also killed workers and teachers in the past, accusing them of working for the Turkish state.

 Ankara and the PKK came close to a negotiated settlement of Turkey’s Kurdish problem in 2015 but fighting resumed after a ceasefire broke down the same year. A massive military operation by Ankara has since put the PKK on the defensive, prompting Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu to say in January that the PKK’s violence was at the lowest level in decades.

 The Diyarbakir governor’s office said security forces were trying to identify and catch the perpetrators of the attack, which took place at 3.30am GMT in Kulp district.

 Last year, 31 mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were removed over alleged ties to the PKK. Among them was Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, mayor of Diyarbakir city, who was later jailed for more than nine years for membership in an armed terror group.

(With news agencies)