Istanbul: Thirteen Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens more wounded today in a suicide car bombing targeting off-duty conscripts blamed on Kurdish militants, the latest in a string of attacks to rock Turkey in recent months.
The government said all signs so far suggested the the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was behind the bombing in the city of Kayseri, a usually calm industrial hub in Anatolia.
Forty-eight soldiers were wounded in the attack which struck when the soldiers were being taken from their barracks by bus on a weekend shopping trip, the army said in a statement.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said a total of 55 people were wounded, six seriously.
Television pictures showed the bus reduced to a smouldering wreck by the blast, which comes a week after 44 people were killed in a double bombing in Istanbul after a football match. That attack was claimed by Kurdish militants.
Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said in televised comments that Kayseri attack was “unfortunately similar” to last weekend’s strikes in Istanbul.
“All indications at present point to the PKK,” Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus told NTV television.
“We have to take into account all possibilities but the signs at present point to the PKK.”
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the attack was carried out by a “suicide bomber”, without giving further details.
The army said that the bus — carrying low-ranking privates and non-commissioned officers — was attacked after leaving the commando headquarters in the city.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the “acts of terror” in Turkey were “aiming at all 79 million of our citizens together with our soldiers and police.”
Without referring specifically to the Kayseri attack, he said that Turkey was targeted by all terror groups but especially the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
“We will fight decisively against these terror organisations in the spirit of a national mobilisation,” he said.
Turkey has seen a spate of deadly bombings in a bloody 2016 blamed both on jihadists and Kurdish militants that have left dozens dead and put the country on daily alert.
In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities blaming the Islamic State group.
Another 57 people including 34 children were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.
Kurdish militants have twice struck with bombings that killed dozens in Ankara in February and March.
The attacks have come with the civil war still raging in neighbouring Syria, where Turkey is staging its own incursion to expel jihadists and Kurdish militia from the border area.
Turkey is also still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from all state institutions.