Bomb Attack Targeting Soldiers Kills 13 in Central Turkey

Updated on
  • Blast comes a week after Istanbul attack targeted police
  • Turkish premier said Saturday’s bombing is a terrorist attack

A car bomb detonated next to a bus carrying off-duty soldiers, killing 13 people in central Turkey a week after a major attack on security forces in Istanbul.

Eight of the 13 have been identified, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in a televised statement. The attack wounded 55, six of them gravely, he said.

A police officer walks next to the wreck of public bus on Dec. 17.

Photographer: Ihlas News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

The bomb exploded at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, just as a bus carrying military personnel about to begin their weekend leave paused at a traffic light next to Erciyes University campus in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the incident was a “terrorist attack” carried out by a suicide bomber, and his deputy Numan Kurtulmus later told NTV television that early evidence points to the involvement of the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK.

Fighting between government forces and Kurdish separatists reignited last year after a Kurdish-dominated HDP won parliamentary representation for the first time, denying the ruling AK Party a majority it needed to expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Kayseri offices of HDP were stormed and set alight by a mob of nationalists in the wake of the bombing, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported. The party condemned the bus bombing in what it described as “the strongest terms.”

Saturday’s explosion comes a week after a bomb attack next to Istanbul’s central Besiktas football stadium, killing 44 people, including 36 police officers. Another PKK-affiliated militant group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, claimed responsibility on its website.

Compounded by Islamic State terrorist attacks and a failed coup in July, the violence has weighed on the economy, which contracted in the third quarter for the first time in seven years.