Turkey insists on Syrian Kurd link to Ankara attack

Ankara has been keen to play up the links between the Syrian Kurdish fighters and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party

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Turkey insisted on Tuesday there was an indisputable link between Syrian Kurdish fighters and last week’s deadly attack in Ankara, despite final confirmation that the bomber was born on Turkish territory.

After the February 18 suicide car bombing of a convoy of military buses in the capital that left 29 people dead, Turkish officials said the bomber was a Syrian Kurd working on behalf of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Fearing the ambitions of the PYD and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, Ankara has been keen to play up the links between the Syrian Kurdish fighters and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

But the radical Turkey-based Kurdish group that claimed the attack said the bomber was a Turkish Kurd, an assertion supported by DNA tests.

“Whatever the judicial inquiry concludes over the identity of the bomber, it is clear that the bomber came from Rojava, the area of the PYD,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters, referring to Kurdish-controlled northern Syria.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had said the bomber was a Syrian Kurd named Salih Necar who had entered Turkey under the guise of being a refugee.

But the group which claimed the attack, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), said the bomber was a homegrown Turkish Kurd named Abdulbaki Somer with the nom de guerre Zinar Raperin.

“We are trying to work out if this person is a Turkish citizen or not. It appears not to be the person who was initially presented” as the bomber, Kurtulmus acknowledged.

“But this does not change at all the base fact that this was an attack committed in collaboration between the PKK and YPG,” he said.

Later, the state-run Anatolia news agency said DNA testing had now confirmed that the bomber was indeed Abdulbaki Somer.

Kurtulmus argued that the bomber had indeed entered Turkey from PYD-controlled Syria in the summer of 2014.

Security forces meanwhile detained 10 people attending a condolence ceremony for Somer -- including his father and brother -- in his home region of Van in eastern Turkey.

The Hurriyet daily said that while the bomber’s real name was Abdulbaki Somer, he had re-entered Turkey with false papers under the name Salih Necar.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the attack rose by one to 29 after another victim died in hospital, media reports said.

Turkey’s insistence that the PYD and YPG are the Syrian branch of the PKK has provoked a rare rift with its NATO ally the United States.

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