Turkey’s air force hit Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Monday, hours after a suicide car-bombing in Ankara killed 37 people and heightened tensions with the Kurdish rebels.
Nine F-16s and two F-4 jets raided 18 positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK in the northern Iraq, including the Qandil mountains where the group’s leadership is based, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Targets hits consisted of ammunition depots, bunkers and shelters.
In Ankara, police carried out raids in the southern city of Adana, detaining suspected PKK rebels. At least 36 suspects were taken under custody. Fifteen suspected Kurdish militants were also detained in Istanbul, Anadolu said.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said terrorism will be brought to its knees while condemning the car bomb attack near a bus stop in central Ankara.
Turkey has become a target of terror attacks due to the instabilities in the region, he said, adding that his government will continue its determined fight against terrorism.
“These attacks, which threaten our country’s integrity and our nation’s unity and solidarity, do not weaken our resolve in fighting terrorism but bolster our determination,” he said.
Terror groups were targeting civilians because they were losing the battle against Turkish security forces.
“Our people should not worry, the struggle against terrorism will for certain end in success and terrorism will be brought to its knees,” he said.
Two senior security officials said the first findings suggested that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy, or affiliate group was responsible for the blast and that a woman and a man were involved in the attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
One of the security officials said the car used in the attack was a BMW driven from Viransehir, a town in the largely Kurdish southeast, and that the PKK and the affiliated Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) appeared to be responsible.
TAK claimed responsibility for the previous car bombing, just a few blocks away, on Feb. 17. That attack targeted a military bus as it waited at traffic lights, and killed 29 people, most of them soldiers, near the military headquarters, parliament and other key government institutions.
A police source said there appeared to have been two attackers, one a man and the other a woman, whose severed hand was found 300 meters from the blast site.
The explosives were the same kind as those used on Feb. 17 and the bomb had been reinforced with pellets and nails to cause maximum damage, the source said.