14 soldiers killed, 56 wounded in attack in Turkey’s Kayseri
AA photoAt least 14 soldiers were killed and 56 people wounded after a car bomb attack in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri early on Dec. 17, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said after the second major terror attack to rock Turkey in less than a week.
Soylu, who was speaking at a joint news conference with Health Minister Recep Akdağ, said 12 of the wounded were in intensive care and four were in critical condition.
Seven people were detained not long after the blast, which occurred at 8:45 a.m., according to Soylu. Another eight people were detained later, according to local prosecutors.
“The terrorist was identified,” Soylu said. According to daily Hürriyet, a fake ID card with the name Mehmet Oluk was found on the driver.
Authorities suggested the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was responsible for the blast.
Akdağ told the news conference that a large number of the wounded had only suffered light injuries.
The wounded were being treated in hospital while there could also be additional civilian casualties, it added.
Soldiers on leave
The soldiers – all low-ranking privates and non-commissioned officers – had been given permission for leave from the commando headquarters in the province, the military said in a statement.
Doğan News Agency had said the blast hit the bus as it drove past a car believed to be packed with explosives.
Broadcaster NTV also said the bus was carrying off-duty soldiers and civilians when it was hit by the blast near a bus stop at the campus of Erciyes University.
The car used in the bomb had tracked the bus for around five kilometers before the bomber struck, according to daily Hürriyet.
Some of the survivors said some of the soldiers on the bus had realized that they were being followed by the car, Hürriyet reported.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been informed of the attack by Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Anadolu Agency said.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş that “a suicide bomb attack occurred and the injured are receiving treatment in hospitals.”
“These incidents cannot weaken our struggle rather it increases our determination,” he said.
Yıldırım refused to cancel an opening ceremony for a high-speed train in the area after the attack. “These attacks can postpone our high-speed trains but they can’t stop it,” he said at the ceremony in Kahramanmaraş.
CHP, MHP, HDP condemn attack
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu phoned the prime minister and offered his condolences over the attack.
Kılıçdaroğlu also said terror would be defeated if people stood erect and proud after the attack.
Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also remarked on the necessity of struggling against terrorism.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) issued a statement following the attack, saying the HDP strongly condemned the attack.
HDP buildings in several areas around the country were attacked in the wake of the bombing, with protesters setting fire to the HDP’s Kayseri provincial building. Protesters also attacked the Party of Labor (EMEP) and the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) buildings in Kayseri and attempted to attack the CHP building as well before being stopped by police.
Defense Minister Fikri Isik said on Twitter that Turkey would redouble its efforts to fight militancy. “We will fight these cowards with a national mobilization,” he said, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s media watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), imposed a temporary ban that included live broadcast from the scene, footage taken from the time of the blast and afterwards, and images of bodies, the agency said in a statement.
An investigation to the attack is underway.
The blast came a week after a twin bombing outside Vodafone Arena in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district killed 44 people and wounded more than 100. That blast was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).