At least nine people, including four children, were killed by a remote-controlled car bomb in southeastern Turkey, Turkish officials said Tuesday, while the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) denied responsibility for the blast.
A total of 68 people were injured in the blast near a police station in southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep on Monday night, four of them in critical condition, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters on Tuesday.
Most of the others suffered slight injuries caused by shattered glass, said Atalay, adding that Monday’s blast set several vehicles ablaze.
“The vehicle used in the attack was a stolen one. It was brought to the site of the blast by a tow truck, with a high amount of explosives on board,” Atalay said.
“We made significant progress in finding those responsible for the blast,” he said.
The blast came amid an escalation of clashes between the Turkish security forces and the PKK. In the last two months, the PKK has intensified its attacks including kidnapping a lawmaker, launching attacks in the western parts of the country and targeting civilians in different towns.
However, the PKK denied carrying out the bombing attack in a statement published by the pro-Kurdish Firat News agency.
“Our forces have nothing to do with this attack. We do not attack civilians,” the PKK said in the statement.
The deadly attack is likely to further strain the already tense relations between Turkey and its neighbor Syria as Turkish officials indicate collaboration of the PKK and the Syrian regime in the incident.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s attitude to the PKK is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Huseyin Celik, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), told Daily Hurriyet Tuesday.
In a written statement, Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party ( BDP) condemned Tuesday the attack against civilians in Gaziantep and advised the Turkish government to change its policies on Syria, implying that the attack was connected with the developments in Turkey’s neighbor.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and most of the international community, took up arms in 1984 in an attempt to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey. Since then, over 40,000 people have been killed in conflicts involving the group.
Turkey, once a close ally to Syria, has imposed a series of sanctions, including an arms embargo, on the unrest-torn country due to its alleged crackdown on anti-government protesters. The Turkey-Syria relations strained further after Syria shot down a Turkish military jet, which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea in June.