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Splinter Kurd faction claims Ankara bombing

February 19, 2016

A Turkey-based Kurdish group has published an online statement claiming responsibility for the car bombings in Ankara. The statement disputes a claim by Turkey's government blaming the blast on YPG militia from Syria.

Türkei Anschlag in Ankara
Image: picture alliance/abaca

In a statement on its website, a group calling itself the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack in Ankara, which left 28 people dead.

The faction also vowed to "take revenge for all the suffering of the Kurdish people" and warned tourists to avoid Turkey.

"We are not responsible for who will die in the attacks" in tourist areas, the group wrote.

TAK is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which is the dominant force in a decadeslong insurgency. TAK broke away from the larger militia over 10 years ago, although some security experts claim there are still links between the two.

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According to the group, the bombings were carried out in retaliation for military operations against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey.

In December, the TAK claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on an airport in Istanbul, in which a female cleaner was killed.

Conflicting accounts

The official account provided by the Turkish government blamed the attacks on Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) based in Syria. The YPG are a key ally in the international fight against the "Islamic State."

"We have no doubt that the perpetrators are the YPG and PYD," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said Friday before the statement's release, referring to the militia and their political wing.

That claim, however, was met with skepticism from the United States. In addition, the YPG denied any involvement, saying the government wanted to create a pretext to send their troops to northern Syria.

"The first thing they did after the attack was to blame us," YPG spokesman Redur Xelil told the Kurdish news agency Firat.

In the statement, TAK named Abdulbaki Sonmez from eastern Turkey as the suicide bomber, contradicting the official version, which had identified the attacker as the Syrian national Salih Neccar.

Turkey's government has become increasingly nervous about the YPG's recent territorial gains in Syria and begun cross-border shelling of Kurdish positions, as well as pushing the idea of sending troops into the war-torn country.

dj/jm (dpa, AP, AFP)