Members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are among people who have been detained in connection with a suicide bombing in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Sunday that injured two police officers, according to a report by Voice of America (VOA) Turkish service.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, claimed responsibility for the attack that took place outside the interior ministry.
The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Members of the HDP and other pro-Kurdish parties are frequently accused by Turkish authorities of links to the PKK although they deny the claim. The HDP has a pending closure case at the Constitutional Court due to its alleged links to terrorism.
The powerful explosion, which was followed by flames, was heard several kilometers from the scene of the attack.
The targeted district is home to several other ministries and the Turkish parliament, which reopened as planned on Sunday afternoon with an address from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya on Monday announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, that 20 people, including provincial spokespeople, district chairs and other members of the HDP, were detained following police raids in 11 districts in İstanbul and 26 addresses in Kırklareli province as part of counterterrorism operations after the attack.
BTÖ’YE YÖNELİK İSTANBUL VE KIRKLARELİ’NDE 2️⃣6️⃣ FARKLI ADRESE DÜZENLENEN OPERASYONLARDA 2️⃣0️⃣ ŞAHIS GÖZALTINA ALINDI❗️
TERÖRİSTLERİN VE ONLARIN İŞ BİRLİKÇİLERİNİN NEFESLERİNİ KESECEĞİZ❗️
İstanbul Terörle Mücadele Şube Müdürlüğümüzce, Bölücü Terör Örgütünün faaliyetlerinin deşifre… pic.twitter.com/XPxKoXuQZw
— Ali Yerlikaya (@AliYerlikaya) October 2, 2023
The party also issued a statement regarding the operation, saying the detentions were “unlawful” and part of a “perception management operation.”
“You won’t make us retreat with oppression, detentions and violence,” they added.
Meanwhile, Çiğdem Kılıçgün Uçar, leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Green Left Party (YSP), said in a statement that the attack was “unacceptable.”
“As long as the Kurdish issue, which the political power once claimed it would resolve but now ignores, remains unresolved, the people of Turkey will pay a heavy price,” Uçar added, referring to Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.
Turkish jets launched airstrikes inside Iraqi Kurdistan following the blast on Sunday. Turkey’s defense ministry acknowledged an “air operation” in northern Iraq to “neutralize the PKK.” The ministry said “20 targets used by terrorists” had been destroyed.
In October 2015 an attack in front of the central train station in Ankara claimed by the Islamic State group killed 109 people.
The most recent bomb attack in Turkey was in a shopping street in Istanbul in November 2022, where six were killed and 81 were injured.