Tuesday 20 February 2018

Mastermind behind Turkey suicide bombing killed

Turkey is still reeling from Tuesday's gun-and-bomb attack at Ataturk Airport
Turkey is still reeling from Tuesday's gun-and-bomb attack at Ataturk Airport

Turkish security forces have killed the mastermind behind a suicide bombing in which 29 people died in February, according to an official.

Mehmet Sirin Kaya was killed in the town of Lice in the mainly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir, the official said.

The suicide attack against military personnel in Ankara on February 17 was claimed by an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist organisation.

Turkey is still reeling from Tuesday's gun-and-bomb attack at Ataturk Airport, one of the world's busiest, which killed 44 people and wounded more than 230.

Although no group has claimed responsibility, Islamic State (IS) is the main suspect for that attack. It has boasted of having cells in Turkey, among other countries.

Authorities said the three suicide bombers in the attack - which echoed the carnage earlier this year at the Brussels airport - were from Russia and the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. They did not provide further details on their identities.

Thirteen people suspected of possible links to the attack were detained in raids in three Istanbul neighbourhoods on Thursday, officials said.

The Haber Turk newspaper said that 11 more suspects - all of them foreign nationals - were detained in a separate raid on a house in Istanbul early on Friday. A government official in Istanbul could not immediately confirm the report.

IS, which has used Turkey to establish itself in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, has repeatedly threatened Turkey in its propaganda, and the Nato member has blamed IS for several major bombings in the past year in both Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkey's interior minister said the explosives used were a mix of RDX, TNT and PETN that were "manufactured".

Jimmie Oxley, chemist and explosives expert at University of Rhode Island, described them as being military-grade, raising the question of how the attackers obtained the bombs.

A key partner in the US-led coalition against IS, Turkey also faces security threats from the Kurdish rebels who are demanding greater autonomy in Turkey's south-east region, and from ultra-left radicals.

Kurdish rebels have carried out numerous car bomb attacks in the past year, including the Ankara attack and another devastating bombing in the capital in March.


Press Association

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