Radical Kurdish group TAK claims Ankara attack; PM Davutoglu reassures citizens

Ankara: A radical Kurdish group with ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party on Thursday claimed responsibility for the suicide car bomb attack that killed 35 people in Ankara last weekend.

The claim by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) came as Germany closed diplomatic missions and schools in Turkey Thursday after Berlin received information that they could be targeted.

In a statement on its website, TAK named the woman bomber as Seher Cagla Demir, who had been involved since 2013 in a "radical fight against a policy of massacre and denial against the Kurdish people."

"On the evening of 13 March, a suicide attack was carried out... in Ankara, the heart of the fascist Turkish republic. We claim this attack targeting centres... where decisions to massacre Kurdish people are made," the statement said.

The bomb ripped through a busy transport hub of Ankara which is close to the interior and justice ministries, prime minister's office, parliament and foreign embassies.

Radical Kurdish group TAK claims Ankara attack; PM Davutoglu reassures citizens

Ankara attack. Getty images

The group said it was a response to security operations by Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of the country.

'Necessary measure'

"This action was carried out to avenge the 300 Kurds killed in Cizre as well as our civilians who were wounded," the statement said.

"We would like to apologise for the civilian losses which had nothing to do with the dirty war being waged by the fascist Turkish republic," the group added.

In February, Turkish forces ended an almost two-month military offensive backed by a curfew against Kurdish rebels in the southeastern town of Cizre.

Turkey has suffered five major bombings since July last year, killing more than 200 people, including two in Ankara in less than a month.

Foreign missions in the capital have heightened security measures.

The German embassy in Ankara as well as the Istanbul consulate and German schools were closed Thursday for security reasons.

"There were indications that we took very seriously that attacks against our diplomatic representations in Turkey were planned," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Berlin.

"That is why I decided last night (Wednesday) that the German embassy in Ankara, the consulate in Istanbul and the German schools in both cities should stay closed," he said.

The minister said it was a "necessary measure" to protect German citizens and also to use the time to bolster security at the institutions.

Last January, 12 German tourists were killed in a suicide attack blamed on the Islamic State group in the heart of Istanbul's tourist district.

Turkey, which faces multiple security threats, is battling both IS and Kurdish militants.

Security 'round the clock'

Sunday's attack came three weeks after a similar car bombing in Ankara killed 29 people, also claimed by TAK, putting the state of security under the spotlight.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Reuters

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Reuters

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who laid flowers at the blast site on Thursday, sought to reassure citizens.

"Our security forces are working round the clock so that public order is in place," he said.

In the immediate aftermath of the latest bombing, the Turkish authorities pointed the finger at the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), against which Ankara has waged a relentless assault since late last year after a shaky two-year truce collapsed.

Just hours after the blast, Turkish jets dropped bombs on PKK targets in northern Iraq.

The government said the bomber was a woman in her mid-20s affiliated with the PKK and trained in Syria by the People's Protection Units (YPG).

The TAK is a little-known group which has nonetheless risen to prominence in recent months after the February bombing and after it claimed a mortar attack on Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport on 23 December.

The shelling left one airport cleaner dead and also damaged several planes.

Turkish officials say the TAK is a front for PKK attacks on civilian targets, but the PKK claims TAK is a splinter group over which it has no control.

The PKK launched a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984 for greater autonomy for Kurds, a conflict that has claimed some 40,000 lives and is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

In an interview with The Times, PKK chieftain Cemil Bayik had warned Turkey to expect payback "everywhere" for the deadly clashes in the southeast.


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Updated Date: Mar 17, 2016 17:46:18 IST

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