The militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Saturday claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack near a local police station in central Turkey, killing one police officer and injuring nineteen others. Several suspects have been arrested.
The attack happened at around 10 a.m. local time on Friday when the militants refused to stop at a traffic checkpoint on a road between Kahramanmaraş and Kayseri, located in the Pınarbaşı District of Kayseri province. As they fled, they struck a gendarmerie vehicle, injuring a soldier.
The vehicle then approached a police station where a gun battle broke out. One of the assailants was able to hurl a grenade toward the building while another apparently detonated the explosives inside the vehicle, killing both attackers as well as a police officer who was nearby.
Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin told the Hurriyet Daily News that the attackers were forced to change their target as they were being pursued, but a PKK statement rejected this and said Pınarbaşı District was the intended target. Turkish media reports had initially speculated that Ankara was the actual target.
Initial reports indicated that two police officers were killed, but hospital officials later said doctors were able to revive one of the victims. In addition, at least nineteen others were reported to have been injured, including seven police officers and twelve civilians. Among the civilians were three children.
Şahin said four suspects have been detained in connection with the attack.
The PKK, which has been labeled as a terrorist organizations by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, was established in 1984 in its efforts to establish the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey as an autonomous Kurdish state. Over 40,000 soldiers and civilians have been killed in violent clashes since the group took arms. The PKK maintains its military bases across the Iraqi border.