Thursday 23 November 2017

At least 11 police officers killed after massive car-bomb in Turkey

The bomb which exploded near a police checkpoint
The bomb which exploded near a police checkpoint

Suzan Fraser

At least 11 police officers have died and 78 other people are injured after Kurdish militants attacked a police checkpoint in south-east Turkey with an explosives-laden truck.

The attack struck the checkpoint some 50 metres from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly-Kurdish Sirnak province that borders Syria, the Anadolu Agency reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings targeting police or military vehicles and installations.

Authorities have blamed the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for those attacks.

Television footage showed black smoke rising from the mangled truck. The three-storey police station was gutted from the powerful explosion.

The Health Ministry said it had sent 12 ambulances and two helicopters to the site.

Violence between the PKK and the security forces resumed last year after the collapse of a fragile two-year peace process between the government and the militant group. Hundreds of security force members have been killed since.

Turkey has also seen a rise of deadly attacks that have been blamed on Islamic State (IS) militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in south-east Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul's main airport in June, which killed 44.

Turkey sent tanks across the Syrian border this week to help Syrian rebels retake a key IS-held town.

Since hostilities with the PKK resumed last summer, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed, according to the Anadolu Agency. Human-rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed.

The PKK is considered a terror organisation by Turkey and its allies.

The attacks on police come as the country is still reeling from a violent coup attempt on July 15 that killed at least 270 people.

The government has blamed the failed coup on the supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on his followers.

On Thursday, Kurdish rebels opened fire at security forces protecting a convoy of vehicles carrying Turkey's main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the north-east, killing a soldier and wounding two others, officials said.

Press Association

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