Kurdish Militants Say They’re Behind Car Bombing in Turkey’s Capital

ISTANBUL:A militant group with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for autonomy inside Turkey, claimed responsibility on Thursday for Thursday car bombing at Ankara, over the weekend that killed 37 people.

The group, known as the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, said in a written statement that it had carried out the attack in retaliation for Turkish military operations against Kurdish rebels in the country’s southeast.

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks had also claimed responsibility for an attack in the cpital last month, when a car bomb struck a military convoy and killed 28 people.

The group apologized on Thursday for the civilian casualties, but it vowed to stage similar attacks against “those responsible for security operations in the southeast.”

The Turkish government has blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party for the attack on Sunday, and it identified the bomber as Seher Cagla Demir, a Turkish citizen born in 1992.

Although the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks say they have split from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, security experts say the two groups have maintained links. A photograph of Ms. Demir was published on the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks’ website on Thursday.

Violence has surged in southeastern Turkey since the government started a counterinsurgency campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party after the group ended a two-year cease-fire in July.

In response to the attacks, which in recent months have spread to metropolitan areas in western Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week that the government would take steps to broaden the definition of terrorists to include those who provide support for terrorist acts.

“It is not only the person who pulls the trigger, but those who made that possible who should also be defined as terrorists,” Mr. Erdogan said on Monday. “Their titles as members of Parliament, academics, authors, journalists do not change the fact that they are actually terrorists,” he added.

Mr. Erdogan has urged Parliament to lift the immunity from prosecution of some Kurdish politicians as part of the crackdown on journalists, news organizations and politicians that he says have provided support for terrorist acts.

After Mr. Erdogan’s comments, Chris Stephenson, a British academic at Bilgi University in Istanbul who has lived in Turkey for 25 years, said that he had been detained and deported after being accused of handing out Kurdish leaflets and that he had been charged with “making terrorist propaganda.”

Mr. Stephenson denied the charge, saying that security officers had seized from his bag leaflets that had been distributed by a Kurdish political party to invite people to a Kurdish festival.

His deportation came a day before European Union leaders were to meet with Turkish officials to finalize a deal seeking to curb the flow of migrants into Europe.

The European Union has been accused of turning a blind eye to human rights violations in Turkey, to a crackdown on the news media and to curbs on academic freedoms in a bid to find a solution to the migrant crisis.

Separately, the German Foreign Office issued a statement on Thursday saying its embassy in Ankara and its consulate in Istanbul would be closed because of security concerns. The nature of the threat was not immediately clear.


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