Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Roadside bomb kills nine in Turkey

People at the site of the explosion near the village of Gecitli,Turkey (AP)
Soldiers carry injured people to a military helicopter after a blast in Turkey (AP)

A roadside bomb attack has killed nine people travelling on a minibus, authorities said, in the latest violence to shake Turkey's turbulent south-east, where Kurdish guerrillas have been fighting for autonomy for decades.

Turkish troops launched an operation to hunt those believed to be behind the attack, which also injured four people, including a 15-month-old baby, near the village of Gecitli in the rugged Hakkari province bordering Iran and Iraq, Hakkari Governor Muammer Turker said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to press ahead with the fight against the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The PKK later denied responsibility.

"These kinds of incidents will not deter us," Mr Erdogan said after the attack. "Terrorism has a cost but it will not remain unanswered."

The rebels suggested it may have been the work of forces trying to discredit the group.

Roj Welat, a spokesman for the PKK, said: "We have nothing to do with this explosion and we do not target civilians.

"The Turkish government and the groups loyal to it are behind these attacks as part of their attempts to distort the image of the PKK," Mr Welat said.

In a statement carried by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency, the group blamed what it called renegade elements within the state that operate clandestinely against perceived enemies and insisted that a unilateral ceasefire it declared will remain in force until September 20.

The Hakkari governor's office initially said 10 people were killed in the blast, but later reduced the death toll to nine. It said the mix-up stemmed from the condition of the bodies and that one of the victims had two different names.

Two backpacks, two Russian-made anti-tank mines and plastic explosives were discovered near the scene, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

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