Car Bombs Target Police, Soldiers in Southeastern Turkey

  • Three security personell killed, more than 40 people injured
  • Bomb-laden vehicles used in attacks in Gaziantep, Dicle

Two car bombs targeted security forces in southeastern Turkey on Sunday, killing two policemen and a soldier and leaving more than 40 people wounded in deepening violence along the Syria border.

The first bomb was detonated outside a police headquarters in Gaziantep after assailants opened fire from a speeding car, local media reported. Eighteen policemen and four civilians were wounded, authorities said.

The pro-government Sabah newspaper, citing unidentified officials who gave no evidence to back up their claim, blamed the attack on Islamic State militants. Several hours later, a second bomb went off outside an army unit in the region, killing a soldier and leaving more than 20 wounded, including civilians.

Islamic State has stepped up its attacks in Turkey at a time when security forces are locked in a fight with the autonomy-seeking Kurdish group PKK. The PKK is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

The surge in violence has dented demand for tourism to Turkey, the world’s sixth-most popular holiday destination. Foreign tourist arrivals dropped for an eighth consecutive month in March, the longest streak in records going back to 2006, according to government data. Tourism revenue may fall below $20 billion in 2016 for the first time since 2008, down from about $30 billion at its peak, according to political risk consultants at Eurasia Group.

Sunday’s second attack targeted a commando unit in the southeastern town of Dicle, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) north of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the Kurdish-dominated southeast. PKK members in separate attacks killed at least four soldiers and wounded 14 others in southeastern towns of Nusaybin and Sirnak on Sunday, Anadolu said.

Turkey had bolstered security in Gaziantep ahead of May Day celebrations and canceled some events there, according to AHaber television. The festivities were also called off in the southern cities of Adana and Sanliurfa after reports of a planned suicide bombing, CNN-Turk television said.

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