Eight killed in huge blast in southern Turkey

August 20, 2012, Monday/ 21:24:00

At least eight people have been killed and 60 injured in a huge blast in southern Turkish province of Gaziantep.

Governor's office said in a statement that a truck full of explosives stopped near the Karşıyaka police station and was detonated, burning two buses and a car to the ground.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast Monday night in Gaziantep, near the Syrian border. Terrorists of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are active in the area, and the fight between Turkish security forces and terrorists, who seek autonomy in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast, has intensified in recent weeks.

Television footage showed firefighters attempting to douse a fierce blaze that gutted several vehicles. Medics assisted a wounded person on a stretcher, and ambulance sirens wailed as bystanders gathered to survey the wreckage.

The blast comes at a delicate time for the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which is providing refuge to tens of thousands of Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country, and is seeking, along with its Western and Arab allies, the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Within its borders, the Turkish state has granted more cultural rights to Kurds as a means of easing the long-running conflict with a significant portion of the ethnic minority, but there is still a great deal of distrust between Ankara and many Kurds.

The PKK operates from bases in the mountains of northern Iraq, and Turkish jets have periodically conducted bombing raids there.

Last week, a Turkish lawmaker was freed by his PKK terrorist captors. Hüseyin Aygün, a member of parliament from the main opposition party, was kidnapped at a roadblock while touring his precinct in the southeastern province of Tunceli.

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