Gunmen target US consulate in Turkey
Turkey\’s largest city Istanbul was Monday shaken by twin attacks on the US consulate and a police station as tensions spiral amid the government\’s air campaign against Kurdish militants.
A suspected suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at a police station in the Sultanbeyli district on the Asian side of Istanbul just after midnight, wounding ten people, three of them police, the official Anatolia news agency reported.
Clashes with police then continued throughout the night as other militants fired on the police station.
In the early morning, two militants were killed by the police but their political affiliation was not made clear.
One policeman was also killed in the clashes, NTV television said, but this was not confirmed officially.
Meanwhile, two armed individuals early Monday launched a gun attack against the well fortified US consulate in the quiet district of Istinye on the Bosphorus on the outskirts of Istanbul, Turkish television reported.
An operation was launched to capture the two militants, one of whom was a woman. One of the attackers — reportedly the female — was later captured wounded, Turkish media said.
Neither media nor the authorities indicated who may have carried out the attacks.
But they came amid rising tensions on Turkey\’s streets as the government presses on with a campaign against militants of the banned Kurdistan Workers\’ Party (PKK) in Turkey and northern Iraq.
Ankara has also targeted the Islamic State (IS) group in the crackdown, but to a much lesser extent.
The PKK has claimed over 20 killings of police and security forces in Turkey over the last two weeks as retaliation for the air strikes against it.
The state-run Anatolia news agency said over the weekend that so far 390 "terrorists" have been killed in the air campaign in Turkey and northern Iraq with 400 wounded.
The PKK\’s insurgency for greater rights and powers for Turkey\’s Kurdish minority began more than 30 years ago and has left tens of thousands dead.
The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States but Ankara\’s Western allies have urged it to show restraint in the onslaught.
The Turkish authorities have launched what Ankara describes as an "anti-terror" offensive in the wake of a wave of attacks in the country.
The government has also vowed to begin strikes against IS jihadists in Syria alongside US forces who have now started arriving to use the well-located Incirlik Turkish air base in the south of the country.
But so far, the focus has largely been on Kurdish rebels.
Washington has long been pushing its historic ally Turkey to step up the fight against IS, something Ankara had until recently been reluctant to do.
Meanwhile, Ankara has made sweeping raids in Istanbul and other cities against Marxist rebels from the outlawed Revolutionary People\’s Liberation Party–Front (DHKP-C), which claimed a 2013 suicide bombing attack on the US embassy in Ankara.
Turkish authorities have arrested more than 1,300 people since late last month in police raids nationwide targeting suspected members of the PKK as well as IS and the DHKP-C.
The spiral of violence sparked by the killing of 32 pro-Kurdish activists in a bombing by suspected IS jihadists last month has left a 2013 ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK in tatters.