Turkish warplanes have conducted airstrikes against the suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) strongholds inside the Iraqi Kurdistan, in response to a suicide bombing attack near the Interior Ministry headquarters in Ankara on Sunday.
The Turkish defense ministry said that “20 targets used by terrorists” were destroyed in an “air operation” that was carried out in the regions of Metina, Hakurk, Qandil and Gara in northern Iraq around 9pm on Sunday.
Ankara said that the goal of the air raid was to “neutralize the PKK and other terrorist elements, prevent terrorist attacks from northern Iraq against our population and our law enforcement agencies, and ensure the security of our borders.”
On Sunday morning, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device outside the Interior Ministry in Ankara, while his accomplice was neutralized by the security forces. There were no casualties, but two police officers were injured in the standoff, according to officials.
The militant group allegedly claimed responsibility and said the attack was meant to send a “warning” to the Turkish government, according to the PKK-linked Firat news agency.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the blast “the latest attempt” to inflict terror on the Turks, adding that those who “threaten the peace and security of citizens have not achieved their goals and never will.”
The PKK and its affiliates have been waging an insurgency since the 1980s demanding political and cultural autonomy with the final goal of establishing an independent Kurdish State, laying claim to territories in southeast Türkiye and northern parts of Iraq and Syria.
The attack occurred on the day when Türkiye’s parliament reconvened from a recess for a new session, during which it is scheduled to consider Sweden’s NATO membership. Stockholm’s bid remains in limbo as Ankara demanded it do more to battle Islamophobia and extradite individuals accused of terrorism, namely, those said to be linked to the PKK.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom condemned the attack in Ankara, saying on Sunday that he was “appalled by the suicide bomb,” and that his country “stands firm in its long-term commitment and partnership with Turkiye to fight all kinds of terrorism.”