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Turkey Arrests 14 Over Ankara Bombing; Leaders Blame Kurdish Groups

One day after a car bomb targeting military vehicles killed at least 28 people in Ankara, Turkey's leaders say the attacker was a Syrian man with links to Kurdish militants in both Turkey and Syria. Police have arrested 14 people over the attack; a militia leader denies any involvement.

"Fourteen people have been detained," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday, according to the Anadalou Agency. "I'm sure that the number will be more than 14. It has been revealed that the extensions of this attack are both inside- and outside-linked."

In addition to those killed, more than 60 people were injured in the blast, which struck close to both a military headquarters and Turkey's parliament building, as the Two-Way reported. Turkey's leaders are vowing to retaliate.

There's also been new violence in the area, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports, with another attack on Turkey's military today.

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"The military says its convoy was hit by an explosion outside Diyarbakir, the largest city in the southeast," Peter says. "The region has seen fierce fighting between the army and Kurdish militants from the PKK."

Two Kurdish groups — the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey and Iraq — have said they're not responsible for the Ankara bombing, but Erdogan dismissed those denials, saying the international community doesn't realize how closely linked they are, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

As the newspaper explains, the groups are also part of a broader disagreement, between the U.S. and Turkey:

"The U.S. has refused to name the PYD a terrorist group as it is cooperating with the group in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. The stance against the PYD has become a major bone of contention between allies U.S. and Turkey."

"Besides this rhetoric that we're hearing and the vow to retaliate," Peter tells Morning Edition, "we're seeing stuff on the ground. In Iraq next door, the Turkish air force has resumed airstrikes in the Qandil mountains, where the PKK have bases. So, the violence is continuing."

The main accusations against the Kurdish groups came Thursday from Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who said, "YPG is a pawn of the Syrian regime and the regime is directly responsible for the Ankara attack. Turkey reserves the right to take any measure against the Syrian regime."

That's according to the Anadalou Agency, which also quotes Davutoglu warning Russia against helping the YPG: "All those who intend to use terror pawns against Turkey must know that [playing] this game of terror will hit them like a boomerang."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.