Turkey’s air force bombed camps belonging to the PKK in northern Iraq early on Monday, the army said. The strike came hours after a suicide car-bombing in the capital targeting buses and people waiting at bus stops at the heart of Ankara heightened tensions with the Kurdish rebels.
Also, the provincial governor’s office said that a round-the-clock curfew was also imposed in the southeastern town of Sirnak in order to conduct operations against Kurdish militants there.
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.
Police meanwhile carried out raids in the southern city of Adana, detaining suspected PKK rebels the agency reported. The private Dogan news agency said at least 36 suspects were taken under custody. Fifteen suspected Kurdish militants were also detained in Istanbul, Anadolu said.
Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said three more people died overnight from wounds suffered in the Sunday night attack rising the death toll to 37. 71 people were still being treated in hospital. Of those in hospital, 15 were in serious condition, he told reporters.
Police on Monday blocked the boulevard where the attack stops occurred, as forensic teams scoured the road – which is Ankara’s main artery – for more clues.
Authorities believe the attack was carried out by two bombers a man and a woman whose severed hand was found 300 meters from the blast site, a senior government official said. Security officials said the female was a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK. She joined the militant group in 2013, the security officials told Reuters. She was born in 1992 and from the eastern Turkish city of Kars, they said.
This 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.”
On Feb. 17, a suicide car-bombing in the capital targeted buses carrying military personnel, killing 29 people, mostly soldiers. A Kurdish militant group, which is an offshoot of the PKK, claimed responsibility.
The explosives were the same kind as those used in a Feb. 17 attack and the bomb had been packed with pellets and nails to cause maximum injury and damage.
The government has said it expects to officially identify the organization behind the attack later on Monday.
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 some residents to flee. The military deployed large numbers of tanks near those towns as the curfews were announced.
Turkey has been imposing curfews in several flashpoints in the southeast since August to root out militants linked to the PKK, who had set up barricades, dug trenches and planted explosives.
Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been witnessing a surge of violence since a 2-1/2 year ceasefire with the PKK collapsed in July. But the militants, who say they are fighting for Kurdish autonomy, have largely focused attacks on the security forces in southeastern towns, many of which have been under curfew.
Last week, Turkey’s military terminated a three-month operation against the militants in the historic Sur district of Diyarbakir – the largest city in the country’s mostly Kurdish southeast. On Sunday, authorities eased the curfew in some streets and one neighborhood of Sur, but the siege over the district’s main areas was still in place.