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Kurdish militant group claims responsibility for Ankara suicide bombing

Sunday's suicide bombing in Ankara left dozens dead [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 March, 2016

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A militant group which claimed Sunday's suicide bombing in Ankara is shrouded in myth, which many say is little more than a cover for the bigger Kurdish PKK.

A radical offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on Sunday which killed 35 people in Ankara.

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) named Seher Cagla Demir as the bomber, saying she detonated explosives at a busy bus stop in the centre of the capital.

It came, the group said, in response to Turkish army operations in Kurdish parts of southeast Anatolia, part of a security clampdown on militant groups that has been criticised for its sweeping measures against Kurds.

The Ankara bombing took place in a busy transport hub in a diplomatic and government district.

The TAK rapidly came under suspicion for the attack which bore the hallmarks of another suicide bombing in Ankara on 17 February which killed 29 people.

The group formed a decade ago following a split in the ranks of the PKK, a Kurdish separatist rebel movement founded by Abdullah Ocalan, now serving a life jail term.

Whereas PKK attacks essentially target security forces and symbols of the Turkish state, the TAK have hit civilians with attacks on major cities and tourist sites.

Attacks by both groups were scaled down as peace talks got underway between the government and the PKK in 2012, until a mortar attack on Istanbul's Sabiha airport on 23 December left one person dead.

The TAK's relationship with the PKK is still unclear, and the larger militant group claim to have no links to the offshoot. 

However, many analysts suggest that the TAK could be a front for the PKK to launch attacks on civilians and deny complicity.

For its part, the PKK has distanced itself from a 2011 "reprehensible" attack in Ankara which killed three, saying it "harmed the legitimate demands of the Kurdish people".

The debate on whether the two groups are linked continues in the country.

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