Six killed and at least 219 injured as car bombs explode in Turkey

Two car bombings targeted police stations in Turkey, killing at least six people and wounding 219 others.

Turkish authorities search outside a damaged building after an explosion in Elazig, eastern Turkey. Picture: Sahismail Gezici/DHA via AP

A car bombing attack on a police station in the eastern province of Van late on Wednesday killed a police officer and two civilians. At least 73 other people – 53 civilians and 20 police officers –were wounded, officials said.

Authorities blamed that attack on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has launched a campaign of car bombings targeting police stations or roadside bomb attacks on police vehicles. Last week, PKK commander Cemil Bayik threatened increased attacks against police in Turkish cities. Hours later, another car bombing hit police headquarters in the eastern Turkish city of Elazig early yesterday, killing at least three police officers and wounding 146 other people, Governor Murat Zorluoglu said. At least 14 of them were in serious condition.

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Mahmut Varol, the deputy mayor for Elazig, said the explosion occurred in the grounds of the police headquarters and caused cars parked nearby to catch fire.

Video footage showed a large plume of smoke rising from the area. Cars were overturned and the windows of the four-story building and its wings were blown out.

Fighting between the PKK and Turkey’s security forces resumed last year after a fragile peace process collapsed. Since then, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed, according to state-run Anadolu Agency. Human rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also died in the clashes.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict since the PKK took up arms for autonomy in southeast Turkey in 1984. Turkey and its allies consider the PKK a terrorist organisation.

On Thursday, authorities imposed a temporary blackout on media coverage of the bombing in Elazig, citing “public order and national security” concerns. Yesterday’s order asked media organisations to refrain from broadcasting and publishing anything that may cause “fear in the public, panic and disorder and which may serve the aims of terrorist organisations”.

Meanwhile, Turkish police have launched simultaneous raids in 18 cities against companies linked to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen as authorities pressed ahead with a clampdown on his movement.

Turkey accuses Gulen of being the mastermind behind Turkey’s failed 15 July coup attempt and has branded his movement a terror organisation. He denies any involvement.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said police yesterday searched 204 premises after warrants were issued for the detention of 187 businessmen.

They are accused of alleged “membership in a terror organisation” and “providing financial support to a terror organisation”.

Separately, a court ordered that 187 suspects’ assets be seized, according to Anadolu.

Greece’s foreign ministry says it has received an official extradition request from Turkey seeking the return of eight Turkish military personnel who fled to northern Greece by helicopter after the abortive coup.

The ministry said it received the request on Wednesday and forwarded it to Greece’s justice ministry the same day.

The eight – six helicopter pilots and two engineers –deny involvement in Turkey’s coup.

They flew to the northeastern Greek city of Alexandroupolis next morning and have applied for asylum in Greece, saying they fear they would not face a fair trial if returned to Turkey and that their lives would be endangered.