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Turkey Strikes Suspected Militants     10/02 06:11


   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes on suspected 
Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq on Sunday following a suicide attack 
on a government building in the Turkish capital, Turkey's defense ministry 

   Some 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, were "destroyed" in 
the latest aerial operation, including caves, shelters and depots, the ministry 
said, adding that a large number of PKK operatives were "neutralized" in the 

   Earlier on Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near an 
entrance of the Interior Ministry, wounding two police officers. A second 
assailant was killed in a shootout with police.

   The PKK, which maintains bases in northern Iraq, claimed responsibility for 
the suicide bombing, according to a news agency close to the rebel group. 
Turkey's Interior Ministry also identified one of the assailants as a member of 
the outlawed group. It said efforts were still underway to identify the second 

   The attack happened hours before Turkey's Parliament reopened after its 
three-month summer recess with an address by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

   The two assailants arrived at the scene inside a light commercial vehicle, 
which they seized from a veterinarian in the central province of Kayseri, 
according to the Interior Ministry. The pro-government daily Sabah reported 
that they shot the man in the head and threw his body into a ditch by the side 
of the road. They then drove the vehicle to Ankara, roughly 300 kilometers (200 
miles) away.

   "Our heroic police officers, through their intuition, resisted the 
terrorists as soon as they got out of the vehicle," Interior Minister Ali 
Yerlikaya told reporters. "One of them blew himself up, while the other one was 
shot in the head before he had a chance to blow himself up."

   "Our fight against terrorism, their collaborators, the (drug) dealers, gangs 
and organized crime organizations will continue with determination," he said.

   Police found plastic explosives, hand grenades and a rocket launcher at the 
scene, a ministry statement said.

   Erdogan gave his speech in Parliament as planned and called the attack "the 
last stand of terrorism."

   "The scoundrels who targeted the peace and security of the citizens could 
not achieve their goals and they never will," he said.

   The president reiterated his government's aim to create a 30-kilometer (20 
mile) safe zone along Turkey's border with Syria to secure its southern border 
from attacks.

   Turkey has conducted numerous cross-border offensives against the PKK in 
northern Iraq. It has also launched incursions into northern Syria since 2016 
to drive away the Islamic State group and a Kurdish militia group, known by the 
initials YPG, and controls swaths of territory in the area.

   Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terror 
group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The PKK has waged an 
insurgency against Turkey since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have died in 
the conflict.

   Last year, a bomb blast in a bustling pedestrian street in Istanbul left six 
people dead, including two children. More than 80 others were wounded. Turkey 
blamed the attack on the PKK and the YPG.

   Security camera footage on Sunday showed the vehicle stopping in front of 
the Interior Ministry, with a man exiting it and rushing toward the entrance of 
the building before blowing himself up. A second man is seen following him.

   Earlier, television footage showed bomb squads working near a vehicle in the 
area, which is located near the Turkish Grand National Assembly and other 
government buildings. A rocket launcher could be seen lying near the vehicle.

   Turkish authorities later imposed a temporary blackout on images from the 

   Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said an investigation has been launched into 
the "terror attack."

   "These attacks will in no way hinder Turkey's fight against terrorism," he 
wrote on X. "Our fight against terrorism will continue with more determination."

   Police cordoned off access to the city center and increased security 
measures, warning citizens that they would be conducting controlled explosions 
of suspicious packages.

   The two police officers were being treated in a hospital and were not in 
serious condition, Yerlikaya said.

   Egypt, which has normalized ties with Turkey after a decade of tensions, 
condemned the attack. A terse statement from the Foreign Ministry offered 
Egypt's solidarity with Turkey.

   The U.S. Embassy in Ankara and other foreign missions also issued messages 
condemning the attack.

   Erdogan in his speech did not provide any indication as to when Turkey's 
parliament may ratify Sweden's membership in NATO.

   Stockholm applied for NATO membership alongside Finland following Russia's 
invasion of Ukraine last year. While Finland has since joined, Turkey blocked 
Sweden's membership in the military alliance, accusing it of not doing enough 
to tackle groups like PKK from operating on its soil. In a posting on X, 
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Stockholm "strongly condemns 
today's terrorist attack in Ankara."

   "We reaffirm our commitment to long-term cooperation with Trkiye in 
combating terrorism and wish for quick and full recovery of the ones injured," 
he wrote, using the Turkish government's preferred spelling for the country.

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