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Turkish bombing kills eight, wounds more than 50

A car bomb ripped through the southeast Turkey city of Gaziantep on Monday evening, killing eight and wounding more than 50, local TV reported. Authorities said the militant PKK group was behind the violence.

The blast occurred close to a police station on the second day of Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the conclusion of the fasting required as part of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Although no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, Turkish officials said they believed the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was to blame.

Turkey's Dogan news agency quoted Gaziantep's governor Erdal Ata as saying the explosion was caused by a remote-controlled car bomb. Television footage showed a bus and the surrounding area ablaze as firefighters battled the flames. Ambulances could be seen ferrying the wounded to hospitals as anxious residents looked on.

"Unfortunately we lost eight citizens and nearly 60 people are getting treated at several hospitals according to our initial information," Ata told reporters.

Gaziantep had previously been spared the brunt of the violence that has wracked Turkey's troubled southeast. Since the PKK launched a separatist insurgency in the region 28 years ago, some 45,000 people have died.

Persistent problem

The violence has been a thorn in the side of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as he seeks to limit the impact of the civil war in neighboring Syria on his country. Officials in Turkey's capital of Ankara believe the PKK may be receiving arms from Syrian forces.

In this picture taken Friday, Dec. 18, 2009, a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, trains on a weapon at their camp in the Qandil mountains near the Turkish border with northern Iraq.

The PKK and Turkish military have been fighting since 1984

The government launched an offensive last month against the PKK in response to attacks against troops in the southeast. At least 115 rebels have been killed since the offensive began on July 23, Turkish authorities said.

Yet as the government has stepped up the pressure, the PKK has stepped up their attacks.

Earlier this month, Kurdish rebels stormed a Turkish army post along the border with Iraq, resulting in a gun battle that claimed the lives of 22 people.

Also earlier this month, the PKK abducted an ethnic Kurd lawmaker in the southeastern city of Tunceli, the first time they kidnapped a member of the Turkish parliament since 1984.

In a separate incident Monday, authorities said two soldiers were killed by a PKK landmine in the Hakkari province, which borders Iraq and Iran.

bm/ rc (AFP, Reuters)