ISTANBUL, Sept 12, 2016 (AFP) – A car bomb exploded outside the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters in the eastern Turkish city of Van on Monday, leaving 27 people wounded, officials said.
The attack took place in the heart of the bustling city, between the ruling AKP’s offices and those of the governor.A Turkish official said 27 people were wounded, two critically.”The blast was caused by a car bomb,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Besir Atalay, an AKP lawmaker from Van, said two of the injured were police officers, describing the whereabouts of the attack as a “busy street, the centre of the boulevard,” in live comments on the private NTV television.It was not immediately clear who was behind the blast that took place on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha.
Atalay pointed the finger of blame at the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that is listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.
“The terrorist organisation has targeted our party building and the AKP’s presence in the past. This is one of them,” he added.Witnesses said the force of the blast shattered the windows in the surrounding vicinity and the AKP’s provincial offices sustained severe damage.
Several ambulances rushed to the scene and television images showed water cannon being used to put out a fire caused by the explosion.- City with mixed population -Van, a city with a mixed Kurdish and Turkish population on the shores of the lake of the same name, has generally been spared the worst of attacks like those seen in the nearby city of Diyarbakir.
The city is a popular tourist destination, particularly with Iranians who arrive from across the border in huge numbers to enjoy shopping and the relaxed atmosphere.The blast came a day after the government announced the removal of 28 mayors, mainly over alleged links to the PKK in a move strongly denounced by pro-Kurdish parties.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the suspension of 28 mayors, saying it was a long-overdue.”You, as mayors and municipal councils, cannot stand up and support terrorist organisations,” he told reporters after prayersoutside an Istanbul mosque, shortly before the attack.
“You do not have such an authority.”
The government has stepped up its military campaign in the restive southeast to eradicate PKK militants, who have launched almost daily attacks since the rupture of a fragile ceasefire last year.Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984, with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkey’s Kurdish minority.Turkey has also launched an operation inside Syria to remove Islamic State (IS) group militants as well as Syrian Kurdish militia from its frontier.