There is a growing body of evidence that a car bomb blast that killed nine civilians in southeastern Gaziantep province on Monday was carried out by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), according to Gaziantep Governor Erdal Ata.
In a statement posted on Tuesday on a website close to the terrorist group, the PKK said it was not responsible for the blast. “Our fighters have no links to this explosion,” the Fırat news agency cited the terrorist group as saying in the statement. Turkish authorities, however, believe the attack was masterminded and carried out by the PKK, but that the terrorist group decided not to claim responsibility for the attack because the victims of the blast were civilians, fearing a mounting reaction against the group. Southeastern Turkey has seen frequent attacks by the PKK.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the governor said security forces have obtained evidence to suggest that the terrorist group was behind the Gaziantep attack. “Even though the terrorist group denies it, the attack was staged by the PKK,” he said. Ata also vowed to shed full light on the attack as soon as possible.
“The police and gendarmerie are continuing their efforts. We were not expecting the city [Gaziantep] to be hit by terror. … We have received some information and evidence. It would not be right to share it [with the press] now. The incident will be illuminated soon. It is clear who is behind the attack,” the governor added. According to the governor, the PKK was hoping to damage the peaceful atmosphere of Gaziantep with the attack. “No one will be able to do it,” he said.
On Monday night, a car bomb exploded near a police station in Gaziantep, a city close to Turkey's border with Syria. Nine people -- all civilians and including four children -- were killed in the blast, and as many as 70 people were wounded. The blast was caused by the detonation of a cache of explosives loaded onto a truck parked near the Karşıyaka Police Department.
The deadly blast came on the second day of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day religious holiday that follows the holy month of Ramadan.
Also on Wednesday, President Abdullah Gül openly stated that the PKK was behind the deadly Gaziantep attack. "The terrorist PKK has a major record of such attacks. Thus, we have no doubt that it is behind the [Gaziantep] attack," the president told reporters.
In the meantime, news reports suggested that the deadly attack in Gaziantep was planned by Mehmet Tahir Kılıç and his team -- PKK terrorists who are responsible for terrorist activities in rural parts of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. Kılıç uses the code name İrfan Amed.
The Hürriyet daily reported on Tuesday that a PKK terrorist captured by Turkish security forces during a military operation last month told police during his recent testimony that Kılıç and his team were planning to stage attacks in and around Gaziantep. “We will not wait for the mountains [PKK commanders in the Kandil Mountains] to give orders [to stage attacks]. We have changed tactics. It is time to stage attacks,” the captured terrorist quoted Kılıç as telling his team.
Police immediately shared the terrorist's testimony with the Gaziantep Police Department, and the department stepped up security measures in the province to foil any possible terrorist attack. However, the police were unable to prevent Monday's deadly blast.