Turkish Interior Minister Soylu says Istanbul blast suspect arrested, accuses Kurdish Workers’ Party of planning bombing

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Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday that authorities had arrested the author of the bomb that caused the explosion on Istiklal Avenue, according to a report by Turkish news agency Anadolu. He said the Turkish government understands the attack was orchestrated by the alleged PKK/YPG terrorist group.

Soylu said the order for the attack came from Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria, where the alleged terror group’s headquarters are located. “We will retaliate against those responsible for this heinous terrorist attack,” Soylu said as quoted by Anadolu.

Soylu said of the 81 injured, 50 people have been released from hospitals and five remain in intensive care units and two are in critical condition. The European Union and the United States, as well as Turkey, classify the PKK or Kurdish Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK) as a terrorist group and hold it responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people.

Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG) is its Syrian offshoot.

The PKK and YPG have called for a separate nation for the Kurds and have claimed for decades that they have been treated unfairly by successive governments in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. West Asia’s Kurdish population is mainly concentrated in eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and western Iran, as well as parts of northern Syria and Armenia.

Tensions between the Turkish government and rebel Kurds have lasted for more than three decades now led by Abdullah Öcalan, who founded the group in the late 1970s.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who left for Bali, said on Sunday that the first signs pointed to a “terrorist” attack during the explosion in Istanbul that left eight dead and 81 injured.

“It might be wrong if we say for sure that it is terror, but according to the first signs…there is a smell of terror there,” Erdogan told a televised press conference. , according to the AFP news agency.

The attack would also raise concerns for NATO aspirants Finland and Sweden, as Turkey accuses the two countries of providing safe havens for Kurdish rebels.

(with contributions from Anadolu and France24)

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