At least one killed in bomb attack near government building in Ankara, Turkey says

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At least one person was killed and two others were injured in a bombing attack outside Turkey’s Interior Ministry building in Ankara on Sunday.

The ministry said in a Sunday statement that two attackers murdered a civilian and stole his vehicle in the country’s capital ahead of the opening of parliament. Two police officers reportedly received non-life-threatening injuries.

The attackers arrived in a light commercial vehicle in front of the building’s entrance at about 9:30 a.m. local time, Yerlikaya. One assailant blew himself up and the other was “neutralized.”

Investigators found four different types of guns, three hand grenades, one rocket launcher, and C-4 explosives at the scene.

The ministry confirmed at least one of the two attackers is a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK. The second attacker has yet to be identified.

The PKK, a Kurdish militant group classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and Europe, issued a statement earlier claiming responsibility for the bomb, pro-PKK newsgroup Firat News Agency reported. The group said the attack was “carried out according to plan and without any obstacles.”

Just hours after the fatal explosion, Turkey destroyed twenty PKK targets in northern Iraq, according to a statement released by the country’s National Defense Ministry.

Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes in the Metina, Hakurk, Kandil, and Gara regions at 9 p.m. local time, destroying caves, bunkers, shelters and warehouses used by the PKK, the defense ministry wrote.

According to Firat News Agency, a PKK unit dubbed the “Brigade of Immortals” explicitly targeted the opening of the parliament and the ministry building, saying it is considered “a massacre and torture center.”

“Every person should know that the members of the Brigade of Immortals could have achieved a very different result with only a small change in their timing if they had wanted to,” the statement attributed to PKK reads.

In the statement, the PKK’s People’s Defense Center Headquarters Command justified the attack due to what it called the “disregard of human rights, the inhuman practice and policy of isolation in Turkish and Kurdish jails, the use of chemical weapons against KPP guerrilla forces, ecocide in Kurdistan, and the oppression of the Kurdish people.”

Security footage of the incident obtained by Reuters shows a vehicle slowing down on the street near the building’s gated entrance.

The vehicle comes to a stop then the driver’s side door slowly opens. One individual exits as a second emerges from the other side of the car. The second person approaches the entrance in a tactical stance, though it’s unclear if the attacker is holding a firearm, while the first hides behind the car. The assailant in motion hurries quickly past what appears to be a guard tower. A large explosion then strikes.

After, through the smoke, the contours of what appears to be the first attacker move toward the gate before the 40-second clip ends.

A bomb found on the body of the neutralized terrorist was set off after the attack in a controlled explosion, one of at least two that could be heard on television footage.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said that an investigation has been launched into the incident.

“These attacks will in no way hinder Turkey’s fight against terrorism,” Tunc said on X. “Our fight against terrorism will continue even more determinedly.”

The bombing took place just hours before lawmakers were set to return to work after the summer break at 2 p.m.

In his address to lawmakers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that Turkey would continue its fight against terrorism “until the last terrorist is eliminated domestically and abroad” following Sunday’s attack.

“The vile people who took aim at the peace and security of our citizens did not reach their goal and they never will,” he said.

The PKK has been waging an insurgency against Ankara for four decades.

In recent years, Turkey has carried out a steady stream of operations against the group domestically as well as cross-border operations into Syria, where a PKK-affiliated Kurdish group controls large swaths of territory.

In November 2022, Ankara blamed the PKK for a bomb attack on a central pedestrian boulevard in Istanbul which killed six and injured dozens.

Terror attacks in Turkey were tragically common in the mid to late 2010s, when the insecurity from war-torn Syria crept north above the two countries’ shared border.

Ankara saw two attacks by Kurdish assailants in 2016, one which targeted military personnel on a bus and another at a bus stop.

Twin bombings in 2015 that targeted a peace rally near the capital’s main train station claimed the lives of nearly 100 people.

Erdogan said Sunday’s attack marked the “final flutters of terrorism” in the country in his speech to parliament.

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