A Syrian national with links to Syrian Kurdish militia carried out the suicide bombing in Ankara that targeted military personnel and killed at least 28 people, Turkey’s prime minister said Thursday.
Turkey’s Kurdish rebels collaborated with the Syrian man to carry out Wednesday’s attack, Ahmet Davutoglu said during a news conference.
“The attack was carried out by the PKK together with a person who sneaked into Turkey from Syria,” Davutoglu said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK.
Authorities have detained nine people in connection with the attack, he said.
Turkey’s military, meanwhile, said its jets conducted cross-border raids against Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq, hours after the Ankara attack, striking at a group of about 60-70 rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
The car bomb went off late Wednesday in Turkey’s capital during evening rush hour. It exploded near buses carrying military personnel that had stopped at traffic lights, in an area close to parliament and armed forces headquarters and lodgings. The blast was the second deadly bombing in Ankara in four months.
Davutoglu confirmed earlier news reports that said the attacker was Syrian.
Yeni Safak, a newspaper close to the government, said the assailant who detonated the car bomb near the military buses in an apparent suicide attack had been registered as a refugee in Turkey and was identified from his fingerprints.
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Pro-government Sabah newspaper said the man was linked to the PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy for Kurds in Turkey’s southeast region.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which killed military personnel and civilians, although suspicion had immediately fallen on the PKK or the Islamic State group. In October, suicide bombings blamed on IS targeted a peace rally outside the main train station in Ankara, killing 102 people in Turkey’s deadliest attack in years.
The attack drew international condemnation and Turkish leaders have vowed to find those responsible and to retaliate against them with force.
The military said Thursday that Turkish jets attacked PKK positions in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region, hitting the group of rebels which it said included a number of senior PKK leaders. The claim couldn’t be verified.
Turkey’s air force has been striking PKK positions in northern Iraq since a fragile two-and-a-half year-old peace process with the group collapsed in July, reigniting a fierce three-decade old conflict.
“Our determination to retaliate to attacks that aim against our unity, togetherness and future grows stronger with every action,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday. “It must be known that Turkey will not refrain from using its right to self-defense at all times.”
The attack came at a tense time when the Turkish government is facing an array of challenges. Hundreds of people have been killed in renewed fighting following the collapse of the peace process and tens of thousands have been displaced.
Turkey has also been helping efforts led by the U.S. to combat the Islamic State group in neighboring Syria, and has faced several deadly bombings in the last year that were blamed on IS.
The Syrian war is raging along Turkey’s southern border. Recent airstrikes by Russian and Syrian forces have prompted tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to flee to Turkey’s border.