Ankara, September 12, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
A total of 50 people were wounded on Sept. 12 when outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants staged a car bomb attack targeting a police checkpoint in the eastern province of Van, on the first day of Islam’s holy Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) holiday.
PKK militants detonated a bomb-laden vehicle parked near a police checkpoint in front of the provincial headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the central Beşyol area at 10:50 a.m., the Van Governor’s Office said in a statement.
Van Governor İbrahim Taşyapan announced that 50 people, including four police officers and four Iranian citizens, were wounded in the attack, which was carried out in one of the city’s busiest spots during the Islamic holiday. He also added that two of the wounded were in critical condition.
The governor also stated that the vehicle, a panel van-type minibus, was probably detonated by remote control ten seconds after it was parked behind the barriers of the checkpoint.
A number of firefighters and health personnel were immediately dispatched to the area as buildings near the scene were damaged and a fire broke out in the aftermath of the attack.
The AKP provincial headquarters and a hotel near the scene were greatly damaged by the explosion, while the windows of nearby houses and storefronts were shattered in the blast.
Security forces’ efforts to apprehend the PKK militants responsible for the attack were ongoing.
In addition, Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) issued a temporary gag order on the attack.
Meanwhile, the attack drew condemnations from the ruling AKP government as well as many main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the attack could not achieve its ultimate goal due to precautions taken at police checkpoints with barricades.
Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canlikli said that with the attack the PKK had turned to directly targeting civilians and innocent people, a sign showing that they had begun to falter.
Speaking in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, AKP deputy chairman Mehdi Eker said: “We all have to say ‘stop’ to these traitors with our stance, statements, and prayers [against terrorism].”
Development Minister Lütfi Elvan criticized that the attack came on the first day of Eid al-Adha.
In the opposition ranks, CHP deputy head and Ordu deputy Seyit Torun condemned the attack, saying it was extremely saddening that such attack was staged during an Islamic holiday.
The party’s deputy head, Öztürk Yılmaz, said such attacks would never be accepted by society, urging for calm and caution against provocations.
Early on Sept. 12, two PKK militants, who were in preparation for an attack, were killed during clashes with special operations police in the province’s İpekyolu district.
The attack also comes after a government move to replace 28 local mayors with trustees for their alleged links to terror organizations, including the PKK.
Four district municipality mayors in Van had been replaced by either deputy governors or district governors on Sept. 11, as part of a recent decree law the under state of emergency following the July 15 failed coup attempt.