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Fifteen Detained Over Suicide Bombing In Turkey, PKK Blamed

  • RFE/RL

The scene in Kayseri where a bus was hit by an explosion.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu says 15 people have been taken into custody in connection with a car-bomb attack in the central city of Kayseri that killed 14 Turkish soldiers and wounded 55 other people.

Soylu told reporters that the 15 suspects were taken into custody after the identity was confirmed of the suicide bomber who carried out the December 17 attack.

Soylu said police were continuing to search for five other suspects.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the suicide bomber targeted a bus that was transporting members of a commando brigade that was on weekend leave in Kayseri.

The Turkish Army said another 48 soldiers were among the wounded.

Soylu said 12 of the wounded were in intensive care and five were in critical condition.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the suicide attack, saying in a statement on December 17 that a "separatist terrorist organization" was responsible.

Turkish authorities frequently use the term "separatist terrorist organization" to refer to the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey, and the European Union.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the blast.

The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that the explosion took place at the gates of Erciyes University at about 8:45 a.m. local time.

Video footage showed the bus was reduced to a smoldering wreck by the blast.

Authorities imposed a temporary blackout on coverage of the Kayseri explosion and urged media to refrain from publishing anything that may cause "fear in the public, panic and disorder...which may serve the aims of terrorist organizations."

The explosion in Kayseri comes a week after 44 people were killed in a car-bomb attack that struck riot police posted outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul following a match.

A hard-line Kurdish militant group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), claimed responsibility for that attack.

Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said in televised comments that the blast in Kayseri was "unfortunately similar" to the Istanbul attack.

Peace talks and a cease-fire between the Turkish government and the PKK collapsed last year, setting off a new round of violence and a crackdown on Kurdish groups.

Turkey has seen a spate of deadly bombings in 2016 that have killed dozens. The attacks have been blamed on both Kurdish militants and the Islamic State extremist group.

With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and Reuters

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