|The PKK, the main Kurdish armed group, has denied any connection to Sunday’s bombing [AFP]|
A group linked to the outlawed armed Kurdish group, PKK, has claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack at the weekend in central Turkey, that wounded 32 people, including 15 police.
The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) says on its website it had staged the attack at a police point in Istanbul’s Taksim Square as an “act of revenge”.
“We as TAK claim responsibility for the action carried out against the police force of Turkish fascism,” the group said on Thursday.
The group operates in Turkish cities and has claimed several deadly bombings in past years.
Sunday’s blast coincided with the last day of the unilateral ceasefire declared by the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Authorities had named the suicide bomber on Tuesday, saying he came from a mainly Kurdish province and was a known member of a “separatist terrorist organisation”, a term often used to describe the PKK.
According to Turkish authorities, the bomber had received training in PKK camps in northern Iraq.
However, the PKK has denied it carried out Sunday’s attack.
On Monday, it extended a one-sided ceasefire until next year’s general elections, when Turkey’s ruling AK Party (AKP) headed by Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, will seek a third term in power.
In its statement on Thursday, TAK made it clear it disagreed with the truce and would not observe it.
“We have seen no development that would justify the silencing of TAK weapons and we maintain our position on that,” it said, according to the AFP news agency.
It warned “all forces [of oppression of the Kurds]” that “sooner or later they will become the target of TAK’s suicide commandos”.
|Analysts say PKK trains and retains loose control over TAK and other Kurdish rebel groups [File: AFP]|
The PKK says the TAK is a splinter group outside its control, but the Turkish government says the TAK is merely a front for the PKK.
Erdogan tried last year to expand Kurdish rights in an effort to end the conflict, though his initiative was undermined by a backlash sparked by images of the coffins of soldiers killed by the PKK.
The ceasefire is seen as giving Erdogan breathing space to re-address the Kurdish question after the election.
TAK has claimed responsibility for attacks in urban centres in the past, including the bombing of a military bus in Istanbul in June that killed five people.
The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the European Union.
The group has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.