State media quotes military saying it hit PKK headquarters in northern Iraq, as death toll rises to 44 in Istanbul double bombing
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq less than 24 hours after twin attacks in Istanbul claimed by a Kurdish splinter group as the death toll in the bombings climbed to 44, local media reported Monday.
In addition, Turkey’s state media said anti-terrorism police detained dozens of individuals linked to a Kurdish opposition party in countrywide raids.
Late Saturday, a car bomb exploded outside the home stadium of football giants Besiktas and less than a minute later, a suicide attacker blew himself up by a group of police at a nearby park.
Thirty-six police officers and seven civilians were killed, while there is one person who has yet to be identified.
The attacks were claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), which is seen as a radical offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The state-run news agency said at least 37 members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, were detained early Monday in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.
The state-run television channel TRT reported similar raids, saying 58 were detained in the port city of Mersin and 51 in Sanliurfa in the southeast.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish authorities accuse the HDP of having ties to the PKK.
The PKK command is based in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq and the group is proscribed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
The Turkish military, quoted by Dogan news agency, said Monday it hit “separatist terrorist organization members” in the Zap region of northern Iraq on Sunday evening, referring to the PKK.
The armed forces said it destroyed the militants’ headquarters as well as nearby shelters and gun positions.
On Sunday, Turkey’s interior minister gave a furious address at a funeral for police officers killed in the Istanbul bombing, slamming Kurdish rebels and their allies in the West.
He asked: “Have you accomplished anything beyond being the servants, pawns and hit men of certain dark forces, of your dark Western partners?”
Since 1984, the PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state during which more than 40,000 people have been killed.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.