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Middle east

Deadly blast hits minibus in southeast Turkey

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-16

At least 10 people travelling aboard a minibus were killed on Thursday when their vehicle was hit by a remote-controlled bomb in Turkey's southeastern province of Hakkari.

AFP - A landmine believed to have been planted by Kurdish rebels blew up a minibus in southeast Turkey on Thursday, killing 10 people in one of the bloodiest attacks on civilians in recent years.

The vehicle was carrying Kurdish villagers to Hakkari city when it hit the mine near Gecitli, a remote village in Hakkari province, on the border with Iraq and Iran, a local security source said on condition of anonymity.

The bodies were badly mutilated in the blast, which left three people wounded, among them a 15-month-old baby.

Television footage showed the red van, reduced to a charred tangle of metal, lying on a road snaking among barren hills as a military helicopter landed and villagers converged at the scene.

The security forces were to scour the area for more explosives, the source said.

Immediate suspicions for the blast fell on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting for self-rule in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984.

If confirmed as a work of the rebels, the blast would be the bloodiest PKK attack on civilians since July 2008 when two near-simultaneous bomb explosions claimed 17 lives in a residential area in Istanbul.

In January the same year, a car bomb intended at a military vehicle killed six people, among them five teenagers on their way to school, in downtown Diyarbakir, the main city of the Kurdish-majority southeast.

Thursday's blast comes during a truce that the PKK announced between August 13 and September 20 that covered the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and a referendum on constitutional changes held on September 12.

Kurdish activists have called on Ankara to make a gesture of good will to the rebels that would cajole them into extending the truce and pave the way for a peaceful solution of the 26-year conflict.

In remarks published in the Spanish daily El Mundo last week, senior PKK leader Murat Karayilan warned that full-scale fighting could resume if Ankara continued its "attacks and detentions of Kurds".

Karayilan also said that the rebels would lay down arms if Turkey adopted a system of regional autonomy similar to that in Spain.

Turkey's main Kurdish political movement, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), has also adopted the demand for autonomy.

Heeding a BDP call, a large part of the Kurdish electorate boycotted a referendum on constitutional chages at the weekend on grounds that none of the amendments addressed the Kurdish problem.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government last year announced a plan to increase Kurdish rights and liberties in a bid to pressure the PKK into abandoning arms.

But it has said it will not take any steps that would jeopardise the country's territorial unity.

The plan has since ran into trouble amid increasing public anger over a series of deadly PKK attacks against security forces since last year.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms for self-rule in the Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed around 45,000 lives.

Date created : 2010-09-16


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