Blast on Eid al-Adha wounds at least 48 in southeast Turkey

Officials blame PKK for the blast that took place near a police checkpost outside the regional headquarters of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Van province

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Security forces rushed to the blast site in Turkey's southeastern Van province.

At least 48 people were wounded in an explosion near the regional headquarters of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Turkey's southeastern Van province on Monday. No fatalities have been reported as yet. 

The attack took place as the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha was celebrated across the country.

"Forty-six civilians and two police officers were injured after a bomb-laden car... was blown up by members of the separatist terror organisation," the local governor's office said in a statement, using a term to describe PKK.

The statement added that the blast took place near a police checkpost outside the AK Party office. 

Besir Atalay, an AK Party lawmaker from Van, also claimed that the PKK was behind the attack. "The terrorist organisation has targetted our party building and the AK Party's presence in the past. This is one of their attacks," he added, in live comments on a private television channel.

Van Police Chief Suat Ekici earlier told Turkish-state run Anadolu news agency that two of the wounded were in critical condition but did not say whether they were police officers or civilians.

Witnesses said that the attack was carried out by an explosives-laden vehicle around 11am local time near the AK Party's regional office and the governor's office. 

Burhan Kayaturk, a local member of parliament from the AK Party, said the blast had targeted the governing party's offices. He added that the offices were well-secured and had not been badly damaged.

The force of the blast shattered the windows in the surrounding vicinity and also set a building on fire, witnesses added. The blast tore the front off a four-storey building. Footage from local news channels showed water cannons trying to douse flames on the street opposite.  

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The number of casualties could not be independently verified.

The government has stepped up its military campaign in the restive southeast to eradicate PKK terrorists, 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.

The PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the EU, the US, and Turkey.

Van is a city about 100 km east of the border with Iran and has a mixed Kurdish and Turkish population on the shores of the lake of the same name. It has generally been spared the worst of attacks such as 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.


TRTWorld and agencies