Istanbul: Kurdish militants detonated a car bomb Sunday outside a military checkpoint in southeast Turkey, killing nine soldiers and eight civilians, the local governor said.
Cuneyit Orhan Toprak, governor of Hakkari province where the attack took place, gave the death toll to the private news channel NTV and said 27 other people were wounded in the attack and were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment. Eleven of the wounded were soldiers, the Turkish military said.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency, citing a statement by the Turkish Armed Forces, said the attack occurred at 9.45 am outside a Gendarmerie checkpoint on the Semdinli-Yuksekova highway and was the work of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The checkpoint is 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the center of the town of Semdinli.
Toprak said the attackers first opened fire on the soldiers at the checkpoint to distract them, before driving up a minivan containing about 5 tons of explosives and detonating it.
The explosion produced a crater 15 meters (50 feet) wide and 7 meters (23 feet) deep. An infantry station located behind the checkpoint also suffered heavy damage.
Turkish authorities imposed a temporary blackout on coverage of the attack, citing public order and national security reasons.
Energy Minister Berat Albayrak condemned the attack during a speech in Istanbul, calling on all countries to stand together against terrorism.
Turkey has been rocked by a wave of bomb attacks since last summer that have killed hundreds of people and been blamed on either the PKK or the Islamic State group.
Fighting between the PKK and the state security forces resumed last year after the collapse of a fragile two-and-half year cease-fire. Since then, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed in clashes, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. Rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed in the fighting.
On Thursday, 10 people were slightly wounded by a bomb mounted on a motorcycle that exploded near a police station in Istanbul. On Friday, the militant Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK, considered an offshoot of the PKK, claimed responsibility. Six people have been detained in connection with that attack.