Istanbul bomb marks end of Kurdish ceasefire

Suspected Kurdish rebels blew up a military bus in Istanbul, killing four people in an attack likely to lead to an intensification of the conflict between the Turkish authorities and the country's Kurdish minority.

The explosion, which left three army sergeants and a 17-year-old girl dead and two others seriously wounded, came after a violent weekend in which 12 soldiers and police were killed by PKK Kurdish guerrillas in southeastern Turkey. The provincial governor of Istanbul, Huseyin Avni, said the bombing was "a terrorist attack" the aim of which was "to create divisions, tensions and despair".

The resumption of guerrilla warfare brings to a final end an unofficial truce between the PKK and the government, which last year launched an initiative giving Kurds greater civil rights. That was partly an attempt to terminate a 26-year-civil war in which 40,000 people have been killed.

But the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish acronym, AKP, of the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, delivered on few of the promised reforms because it was frightened of being portrayed as soft on Kurdish rebels in forthcoming elections. Speaking at a service to honour the dead soldiers, Mr Erdogan said he would "annihilate" the PKK. "They will drown in their own blood," he said, adding that "such kind of bloody attacks will not be able to divert the direction of our nation to grow and be a strong and estimable nation."

Such is the degree of anger over the deaths of the Turkish soldiers that Mr Erdogan and other senior members of the government are in danger of being mobbed at funerals by angry relatives and members of the political opposition. Television screens and newspapers were yesterday dominated by pictures of soldiers' coffins draped with red-and-white Turkish flags.

Turkish commandos were also being dropped by helicopter along the mountainous border with Iraq, although in the past this has had little effect since the bases of the PKK are well concealed in caves and gorges on both sides of the border. Turkish warplanes have made bombing raids against PKK guerrillas in northern Iraq, but with limited effect.

In a statement, the PKK justified its military actions and the ending of its 14-month-old ceasefire by saying that its unilateral truce had become meaningless because the Turkish government had not reciprocated. With 6,500 experienced fighters in Iraq and Turkey, the group is probably capable of making pinprick attacks for as long as it wants. Though the fighting is not extensive, it has a political impact out of proportion to its scale.

The resumption of war in southeast Turkey may also undermine the increasingly friendly relations between Turkey and the Kurds of northern Iraq, grouped under the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Iraqi Kurds are beginning to see Turkey as a counterbalance to the government in Baghdad.

President Massoud Barzani, who heads the KRG, recently visited Ankara, where he has long been demonised, for friendly talks. The US has also been encouraging greater Turkish involvement in Iraq, to fill the vacuum left by the departure of US troops and to offset Iranian influence.

The AKP seemed poised, after it first came to power in 2002, to take over from the PKK's political representatives in Kurdish-majority areas in the southeast. But it has seldom lived up to its promises. When former PKK fighters returning under a de facto amnesty in October 2009 were greeted as heroes by supporters, there was a backlash against Mr Erdogan.

The main Turkish Kurd political party was dissolved and many Kurdish mayors and elected officials have been arrested. An ominous consequence of the resumed fighting may be that it will increase the role played by the army in Turkish politics.

The main achievement of Mr Erdogan and the AKP has been to entrench civilian government and limit the influence of the army, which has staged four coups since 1960.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks