Turkey: Three killed in bomb blasts near police station

Published by Théophile Niyitegeka
On 18 August 2016 saa 03:50
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Three people, including a child, killed in a car bomb blast near a police station in Turkey’s eastern province of Van.

A large explosion rocked an area near a police station in the eastern Turkish town of Elazig and several people were wounded, Turkish media reported, hours after a car bomb killed three people and wounded 40 elsewhere in the region.

Video footage obtained by the private Dogan news agency showed a large plume of smoke rising from the area of the blast, the cause of which was not clear.

Mahmut Varol, the deputy mayor of Elazig, said vehicles in front of the building had been burned due to the detonation of a car bomb, although he did not provide any information on casualties.

"The first video coming from the scene shows that there are people injured, there are ambulances at the scene, taking the injured away," said Al Jazeera’s Reza Sayah, reporting from Gaziantep on the Turkish-Syrian border.

"Based on the images, this was a powerful explosion. Much of the building is destroyed. We see smoke in the air and a lot of people surrounding the scene looking very distraught."

Only hours earlier, three people, including a child, were killed and more than 70 wounded in a car bomb attack in Turkey’s eastern city of Van carried out by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters, Turkish officials said.

The PKK attack targeted a police headquarters in the central Ipekyolu district of Van city, Mehmet Parlak, the deputy governor of Van, was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Thursday.

Speaking to Anadolu, Zahir Soganda, the ruling AK Party’s provincial head, said that 71 people were injured.

"Among the 71 injured, three of them are in a serious condition and 17 are police officers," Soganda said, adding that a child and a police officer were among the dead.

"People of Van will not be discouraged by this incident," Soganda said.

"These are the last stands by the terror organisation. They are trying to break the resistance of the people of Van, which they will never achieve."

The suspect, identified only as MO by the Turkish media, was caught in an air operation that was launched after the attack, according to authorities. He had been wounded and was taken to the main police headquarters in Van city for questioning.

MO was prevented from getting close to the police station because of barricades and parked an explosives-laden vehicle approximately 40 metres away from the facility, according to national daily Hurriyet.

The suspect left his vehicle and activated the bomb from a safe distance using a remote control, the newspaper said.

The Turkish security forces have been hit by near daily attacks from the PKK since a two-and-a-half year ceasefire collapsed in 2015, leaving hundreds of police and soldiers dead.

Five police officers and three civilians, including a child, were killed on Monday in a powerful car bomb explosion outside a police station near Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

The government has vowed to press on with its campaign to eradicate the PKK from eastern Turkey, despite the ongoing purge in the army to rid it of those connected to last month’s failed coup attempt.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkey’s Kurdish minority, although it now focuses more on rights and demands for greater autonomy.

Turkey, the European Union and the United States have labelled the PKK a "terrorist" group.