PKK suspected over Istanbul suicide bomb as ceasefire runs out

A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up next to a police vehicle in Istanbul's busy Taksim Square yesterday, injuring at least 32 people, 15 of them police officers.

Both radical Islamist groups and Kurdish resistance fighters have mounted terror attacks in Turkey's biggest city in recent years but no group claimed responsibility for the blast.

The attack happened mid-morning in downtown Istanbul, just yards away from restaurants and cafes normally thronging with tourists, as the city prepared for its annual Republic Day festivities, postponed by a day because of rain.

"It was a terrifying, very loud explosion," Mehmet Toz, a coffee-stall owner, told the Associated Press. "Everyone started to run around, people fell on the ground. There was panic."

Police officials said the suspected bomber unsuccessfully attempted to board a parked police van before detonating the bomb outside of the vehicle. Officers also found a package of plastic explosives at the scene, but it was not clear if it was part of the same device. The bomber was killed in the explosion, but none of the injured was in danger, said police chief Husein Capkin.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan condemned the attack from the town of Mardin in the predominantly Kurdish southeast. "Those who threaten Turkey's peace, security and development will not be tolerated," he said in a televised speech.

"These kinds of attacks will not stop Turkey reaching its goals of peace, brotherhood and development. We are together, we are brothers."

In recent years, Istanbul has experienced a number of deadly terror attacks. In late 2003, al-Qa'ida suicide bombers killed 62 in a wave of bombings, while Kurdish militants have also conducted attacks in the city.

Official suspicion for the attack appeared to fall on the Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, a Kurdish guerrilla resistance group based in the mountains of northern Iraq.

The PKK's unilateral ceasefire was due to expire yesterday. The group's de facto leader, Murat Karayilan, warned in an interview with The Independent at his mountain hideout that the group would not extend the ceasefire if the Turkish government continued military operations against it.

The group, which is fighting for cultural and democratic freedoms for Turkey's Kurds, has repeatedly renewed a ceasefire aimed at paving the way for peaceful negotiations with the Turkish government to end the 26-year armed conflict. But frustration has grown since the ruling Justice and Development party failed to make good on any of its promised reforms for the Kurds, fearing that it would be seen as soft on Kurdish rebels ahead of next year's elections.

In June, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons blew up a military bus in Istanbul, killing five people. The Turkish government says that the group is a front for the PKK, while the PKK has insisted that it has no control over it.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future