Published: Wed, December 14, 2016
Medical | By Dorothy Lyons

Turkey blasts claimed by Kurdish militants; country mourns


The death toll in Saturday's Istanbul terror attack has risen to 38, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday.

The operations were launched after the TAK, an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdish group the PKK, claimed responsibility for Saturday's twin bombings in Istanbul.

"Our people expect us to defeat and eliminate this terrorist organization, which has attacked our nation for 40 years", Soylu said while paying a condolence visit to a riot police headquarters in Istanbul.

Turkey's police on Tuesday continued to detain members of a pro-Kurdish political party in the wake of deadly suicide bombing.

The raids targeted officials from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) over allegations of links to Kurdish PKK militants, state-run Anadolu agency reported on Monday. At least 150 people were wounded.

Outside a football stadium in Istanbul's Besiktas district, a vehicle bomb was detonated two hours after the end of a Turkish league football match between Besiktas and Bursaspor.

Turkey is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and a partner in the USA -led war against the Islamic State group.

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top government officials condemned the bombing and vowed that they would hunt down those involved in perpetrating the incident.

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Amnesty global said half a million people have been forced out of their homes in the south-west of the country following a "brutal crackdown" by Turkish authorities in the past year. The dead included 36 police officers and eight civilians, according to health ministry figures.

The carnage on Sunday comes as part of a string of terrorist attacks by both Kurdish and Isis (Islamic State) militants across Turkey in recent years.

Taxi drivers waving Turkish flags drove around the recently inaugurated Besiktas stadium, named after the home team and neighbourhood.

Police in Istanbul took 20 HDP officials into custody.

Violence surged last year after the collapse of a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire, sparking nearly daily clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces, mainly in the southeast.

The crackdown against Kurdish politicians has coincided with widespread purges of state institutions after July's failed coup, which the government blames on followers of a USA -based Muslim cleric. Analysts say that the TAK militants split with the PKK over negotiations with the Government, but that the two groups maintain strategic ties.

"The evidence so far points to the PKK, the ministry has some of the information on framework about how it was planned and organized but for the sake of the investigation please forgive that I won't share any details", CNN quoted Soylu as saying.

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