At least seven security personnel were killed after a powerful explosion ripped through an area close to the town center in the eastern province of Tunceli at around 6 p.m. today.
The explosion occurred as an armored military vehicle was passing through a main street in the city's Atatürk
neighborhood, broadcaster CNNTürk reported. A plume of smoke could be seen from most parts of the city as the armored vehicle, the apparent target of the attack, and a civilian car caught on fire, a reporter
from the Doğan News Agency told CNNTürk anchor Nevşin Mengü. The sound of the explosion could be heard from around the city, Doğan’s reporter
added, attesting to the power of the blast.
Security forces arriving at the scene came into contact with suspected militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), resulting in a clash. One militant was reportedly killed in the clash.
Ambulances carried an unknown number of injured people taken to Tunceli State Hospital as firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze. 'Dersim not bowing down to PKK'
Main opposition Republican People's Party’s (CHP) Tunceli deputy Hüseyin Aygün, who was recently kidnapped and held hostage for two days by the PKK, told Şenay Yıldız in an interview on CNNTürk yesterday that the PKK
was trying pressure Tunceli residents into submitting to its rule.
Aygün had previously said "the PKK
is trying to destroy commercial activities in Dersim," on the microblogging site Twitter. The lawmaker said the PKK
was implementing a wave of pressure on Tunceli locals after the local eloctorate elected CHP
deputies and were not falling into line with the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). "Dersim is not bowing down to the PKK," he said.
Dersim is the former name of Tunceli and is still commonly used.
"The PKK's aim is to found its own state," Aygün told CNNTürk. "But the people of Dersim are showing resistance to the PKK's forced policies ... so, the PKK
is now making them pay for it."
is sending out the message of "you either accept my sovereignty or leave Dersim," according to Aygün. The lawmaker said that the militant group conducted acts of punishment including exile, torching commercial vehicles, shops and businesses and extortion under the guise of taxes during the 1990s, forcing Tunceli locals out of the city. "Today, they still collect taxes from local businesses," Aygün said.
The recent assassination of a public prosecutor in Tunceli was also a part of PKK's efforts at trying to subdue the population, Aygün said. "It is pathetic to attack a defenseless man from behind, a man who is loved by Dersim locals."
is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.