October 26, 2016

Car bomb targets government buildings in eastern Turkey’s Van

Suspected Kurdish militants detonated a car bomb near local government offices in Turkey’s south-eastern city of Van on Monday, wounding scores of people, a day after two dozen mayors from Kurdish-run municipalities were stripped of office.

The blast hit some 200 metres from the Van provincial governor’s office, security sources said, ripping through the city’s central district and setting buildings and cars aflame. Police officials said 27 people were wounded but no one died.

Southeastern Turkey has suffered repeated bombings and other attacks since the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy in the region, abandoned a ceasefire in 2015.

Security sources said they suspected the PKK was behind the Van bombing and that an operation had been launched to pursue the suspected militants. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The blast tore the front off a four-storey building. Footage from the Dogan news agency showed water cannon trying to douse flames on the street opposite. The district, normally busy, was more empty of traffic on Monday, the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Burhan Kayaturk, a local member of parliament from the AKP, said the blast had targeted the ruling AK Party’s offices, but that they were well-secured and had not been badly damaged.

Turkey appointed new administrators in 24 Kurdish-run municipalities mostly in the south-east on Sunday after removing their mayors over suspected PKK links, triggering protests. Four towns in Van province were affected by the removals.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey had evidence that the mayors had sent support to Kurdish militants, and that they should have been stripped of their roles sooner.

The pro-Kurdish opposition party, the third-largest in the national parliament, decried what it said was an “administrative coup” and said the move was illegal.

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