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
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living