A suspected Kurdish militant blew themselves up on Monday in a suspected suicide bomb attack in southern Turkey, security sources said. An explosion occurred in the town of Iskenderun in the southern province of Hatay on Monday evening, which the local governor blamed on one of two “terrorists”, reports AFP.
A video posted on social media shows gunfire that preceded the explosion on what looks like an urban street in Iskenderun, which the Turkish media identified as Fanar Street in the city’s merchant district.
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“Two militants were spotted at a checkpoint in Payas district. One of them blew himself up after clashing with police,” Hatay Governor Rahmi Dogan said in a statement on Monday evening. “The operation to capture the other terrorist is underway.”
Payas is a town just north of Iskenderun. The militants presumably ran the checkpoint and drove into the city, with police in hot pursuit.
Photos from the explosion site show extensive damage to cars and storefronts.
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No civilians were hurt in the incident, Dogan said.
A Turkish security source said the two individuals were from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and an army sergeant had been injured in the attack, without providing further details. The source said that the two individuals tried to escape, but realising they would be caught, one exploded a bomb on their body, while the second ran away. The PKK, which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union, reported AFP.
Hatay is the southernmost Turkish province, nestled between the Mediterranean to the west and Syria to the south and east. The adjacent Idlib governorate in Syria is the last bastion of Turkish-backed militants, many of whom are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, which once sought to overthrow the government in Damascus.
Tensions between Turkey and Syrian Kurds
Kurdistan Worker’s Party has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy for decades in Turkey. However, their mission is not the same anymore. Still, they have been labelled as an extremist organization by the EU and US. People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish militia, and the Kurdish Worker’s party have a similar ideology. Thus, Turkey feels threatened and wants the members of People’s Protection Units away from its borders. In a attempt to push People’s Protection Units’ member back from Turkey’s border, Turkish troops created a 30km deep safe zone along the Syrian border, along with Syrian rebels on October 9th, reported BBC.
RT with additional information from GVS.