Five policemen and three civilians died today in Güroymak district of the southeastern province Bitlis in a suspected roadside bomb explosion.
A bomb that was planted in a manhole went off while a police vehicle was passing, just outside Güroymak, security sources said.
Bitlis Gov. Nurettin Yılmaz told reporters in the eastern city that five police officers and three civilians were killed in the explosion, which was caused by a remote-controlled bomb. “Four other people were injured and are now receiving treatment at the Bitlis State Hospital,” he said.
Security sources said the main suspects in the attack were militants from the outlawed Kurditan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has increased its attacks in recent months, namely against the police and civilian targets.
A 2-year-old girl and her father were among the civilian victims. They were travelling in a van behind a police car, according to reports. Eyewitnesses said a large hole was formed in the spot where the bomb went off. Several people were taken to the hospital, including police officers. Security forces launched a large-scale operation in the region.
President Abdullah Gül called Gov. Yılmaz to obtain information on the terror attack, Anatolia news agency reported.
Meanwhile, 40 people were taken into custody yesterday in simultaneous operations against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) in the southern provinces of Mardin, Gaziantep and Adana. In a written statement, the Mardin Police Department said simultaneous operations were carried out in the Kızıltepe, Nusaybin, Derik and Mazıdağı districts early yesterday morning, with a total of 22 people detained. In Adana, gendarmerie teams detained 14 people on alleged links to the KCK, while four others were detained in Gaziantep.
The KCK is the alleged urban wing of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Trials against the KCK started last year with 150 defendants, including 12 mayors of southeast Anatolian cities, including influential Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir. Many local politicians who support Kurdish rights have been put on trial. Some 100 defendants have been held for nearly 18 months.
The case is in a deadlock because the court refuses to allow the suspects to give testimony in Kurdish.