Bomb attack kills 14 Turkish policemen

By bne IntelliNews September 8, 2015

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Fourteen Turkish police officers were killed in a bomb attack on a bus in the eastern province of Igdir on September 8 after Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in Northern Iraq.

The bomb attack near the Armenian border comes amid a sharp escalation of violence between security forces and PKK militants in recent weeks, mostly in Turkey’s Kurdish-populated eastern and southeastern provinces.

Sixteen soldiers were killed on Sunday when PKK militants ambushed a military convoy in the Daglica province, near the Iraqi border. The Daglica attack was the deadliest since the two-year ceasefire collapsed in July. Around 90 security personnel have lost their lives in a series of attacks in the country’s Kurdish populated provinces since July. 

The Daglica assault prompted Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to vow to wipe out PKK militants from their mountain strongholds. The military launched massive airstrikes with more than 50 jets on Monday against PKK positions in Northern Iraq.

Tension was high on Turkey’s streets on Monday following Sunday’s attack in Daglica. Dozens of buildings belonging to the main Kurdish party HDP were attacked, according to media reports. The government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuse the HDP of being the political front to the PKK.

Thousands of people took to the streets in a number of cities to protest the killings of the 16 soldiers in Daglica. There were also reports that protesters attacked Kurdish workers in Ankara’s Beypazari district.

The HDP called for an immediate ceasefire on Monday, warning that the country is heading towards disaster. Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the HDP, recently warned that the necessary conditions do not exist to hold  elections in Turkey’s southeastern provinces because of the violence between the security forces and the PKK.

The attacks on security forces and the street violence on Monday highlight the fragility of the situation at a time when Turkey is headed toward crucial general elections on November 1.

Critics accuse Erdogan and the ruling AKP of whipping up the violence in an attempt to regain the parliamentary majority it lost in June after 12 years. The HDP cleared the 10% threshold in the June elections to enter parliament, depriving Erdogan’s AKP of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002.

The Turkish economy has suffered from the renewed clashes, with the lira currently one of the worst performing currencies in the emerging markets universe. The lira touched a new all-time low against the dollar on Monday, weakening beyond the psychological barrier of 3 to the dollar. The lira was down 0.97% in early Tuesday, trading at 3.0315 against the dollar at 8am local time. 

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