Cars loaded with bombs attacked the Turkish province of Van and the city of Elazig late Wednesday and early Thursday respectively.
A car packed with bombs exploded nearby a police station in Van, killing a police officer and two civilians. The attack also wounded 20 officers and 53 civilians. The second bombing took place at a police station in Elazig. It killed at least five individuals and injured 146. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that 14 of the wounded remain in critical condition and the casualty number is expected to increase due to severe injuries.
The third attack was orchestrated by rebels in the province of Bitlis, where an armored transport vehicle exploded, killing five soldiers in the process and injuring five others.
Erdogan vs. Rebels, ISIS, and the PKK
Turkish authorities, including Van Governor Ibrahim Tasyapan, have reported that the attacks were planned by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whereas recent clashes have been frequent since a ceasefire was broken by the PKK in July 2015.
Tasyapan stated that one suspect has been apprehended, and its relation to the PKK was confirmed. The attack in Elazig is the fifth orchestrated explosive assault targeting police structures in Turkey.
The PKK is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. According to Turkish media outlet Anadolu Post, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of over 600 troops and police officers. More that 7,000 PKK militants have been killed or neutralized in Turkey and Iraq.
The U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby condemned the attacks and assured that the White House will remain in close contact with Turkish authorities to ensure Turkey’s efforts towards consolidating democracy and the security of its citizens.
It was revealed that Vice President Joe Biden will continue his plans of visiting Ankara to reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to supporting Turkey amid the turmoil.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim visited Elazig, where he stated that both the PKK and Gulen’s supporters had important roles in the attacks, but he did not go into detail.
Yildirim claims that Gulenism has “lost its assertiveness,” which has led the movement to take the PKK as allies, as it appears that the intelligence which elaborates the group’s actions is the same or has an intrinsic relationship.
On a more serious note, President Erdogan claims that Gulen’s supporters, which his administration refers to as FETO, are responsible for the attacks.
“There is no difference between the PKK, Daesh (ISIS), and FETO. They all serve the same purpose,” stated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.
Rough times ahead for Erdogan’s Turkey
Turkey is going through a delicate period of instability after the July 15 coup attempt, which has led to the incarceration of thousands, on the argument that the suspects are alleged coup supporters. Recently, Turkish prisons underwent a mass release of prisoners to make room for alleged putschists.
International interests are also a major factor in how Turkey transits to this new era of fighting on several fronts. President Erdogan must display a strong image, able to fend off attacks from the PKK and ISIS, while still being able to take advantage of the support of the U.S., Russia, and fighting for acceptance at the European Union. The latter did not offer any statement in support of Erdogan after defeating the coup attempt.
Source: Anadolu Post