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Deadly car bomb blast targets Turkish police

March 31, 2016

A car bomb has hit a minibus carrying Turkish police near a bus station in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. At least seven officers have been killed and 27 people wounded.

Türkei Kurdistan Diyarbakir Anschlag auf Bus
Image: Getty Images/AFP/I. Akengin

The car bomb attack carried out by suspected Kurdish militants struck a minibus carrying special forces police, killing seven officers in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, in the latest violence to hit the Kurdish dominated region.

At least 27 people, including 14 police officers were also wounded.

The attacks comes as Prime Minister Ahmet Davutolgu was schedule on Friday to visit the restive city, where security forces have been battling Kurdish militants tied to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The southeast has been engulfed by violence since last July when a two year ceasefire with Kurdish rebels broke down, triggering major military operations across the region.

The three-decade conflict has taken on new dimensions with the PKK and affiliated youth militia building trenches and barricades in urban areas, triggering a military response that has displaced tens of thousands and killed hundreds, including civilians. The PKK has traditionally operated in rural areas staging hit and run attacks on military targets.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week that 5,359 members of the PKK and 355 members of the security forces have been killed in the fighting. It was not possible to confirm the PKK death toll. The government regularly overestimates the rebel body counts.

Human rights organizations have criticized the weeks-long, around the clock curfews in dozens of towns across the southeast and associated military operations that have destroyed cities. Diyarbakir's historic Sur district has suffered devastating destruction.

Türkei Diyarbakir Bombenkrater eines Hauses
Many buildings in Diyarbakir's Sur district have been destroyed in months of fighting.Image: DW/D. Cupolo

A hard-line faction of the PKK, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), claimed credit for two bomb attacks in Ankara this year. One in February targeting a military bus killed 29, mostly soldiers. Another car bomb blast in Ankara this month hit a transport hub in the center of Ankara, killing 37 people.

More than 35,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 1984, when the PKK started an insurgency for an independent Kurdish state. They have since changed their objective to greater democracy in Turkey and cultural rights for the Kurdish minority.

The conflict has been complicated by events in Syria, where the PKK affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) has set up autonomous regions out of the chaos in Syria.

cw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)