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Bus hit by explosion in central Turkey, multiple casualties

An explosion has hit a bus carrying soldiers near a university in Kayseri, central Turkey. The army has said that 13 were killed and dozens wounded, and that there was the possibility of civilian casualties.

A blast destroyed a bus outside Erciyes University in the central Turkish town of Kayseri on Saturday. At least thirteen soldiers were killed and 56 others wounded, according to a statement from the military. The statement added that they were not yet sure if any civilians were among the injured, who had all been taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The army also said that the bus had been carrying privates and noncommissioned officers who had left their commando headquarters in the city for an excursion to a local market. The vehicle was stopped at a red light when it was approached by a car laden with explosives.

In response to the attack, Ankara issued a partial reporting ban so as to curb "fear in the public, panic and disorder ... which may serve the aims of terrorist organizations."

The United States condemned the attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message to President Tayyip Erdogan indicating that Russia was ready to increase cooperation against terrorism, Russian news agencies reported.

String of violent attacks

The incident came just a week after a car bomb and suicide bomber attacked the Besiktas soccer stadium in Istanbul, killing 44 people including 36 police officers. Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said Saturday's attack was "unfortunately similar" to last weekend's blast, claimed by a militant offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). 

In a statement, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the PKK for the bombing, and likened it to the security situation in Iraq and Syria.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which has been under increasing pressure by the Erdogan government, condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms."

Turkey has been rocked by a string of deadly bombings in 2016, several of which have been claimed by Kurdish militants. Turkey also faces spillover from the Syrian conflict on its southeastern border.

es/tj,jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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