Around 50 injured as car bomb rocks southeastern Turkish city (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
The blast took place around 200 meters from the city’s provisional governor’s office, according to security officials cited by Reuters. Security sources suspect Kurdish militants were behind the attack, but as yet no group has claimed responsibility for the assault.
The explosion, which happened at about 11:00 local time, tore the front off a four-story building, while video images from the Dogan news agency showed water cannon being used in an attempt to put out the flames.
The normally busy street was quieter than usual because people were celebrating the first day of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. Two police officers were amongst the injured, while CNN Turk states that Iranian nationals may be among the wounded, as Van is around 100km east of the Iranian border.
Burhan Kayaturk, a local member of parliament from the ruling AKP party, stated that the attack had targeted a police checkpoint in front of the party’s provincial headquarters, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The official added that the offices were well protected, meaning that damage had been kept to a minimum.
In August, three people were killed and 71 injured, including civilians, when a car bomb struck a police station in Van. Kurdish militants were once again blamed by the Turkish government for carrying out the attack.
A ceasefire between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish government was shattered in July 2015. Kurdish militants are fighting for the right to self-determination and greater autonomy for Kurds – demands which Ankara rejects.
The crackdown on the Kurdish majority in the southeast of Turkey has intensified following a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Last week Erdogan said that Turkey is conducting the largest operation in its history against Kurdish militants.
This included the appointment of 24 new administrators in Kurdish-run municipalities on Sunday, after their elected mayors had been removed from office. The Turkish government suspected them of having links to the PKK.
"It is a step taken too late in my opinion," Erdogan said, as cited by Reuters.
"They sent the support they received to the mountains, but this has all been discovered," the president said, referring to Kurdish militant bases in the mountains of southeast Turkey and northern Iraq. "Our government took this decision based on all of this evidence."
Four towns in the province of Van were affected by the removals of the elected officials.