Turkey arrests Kurds, hits militants after twin bombings

Turkey arrests Kurds, hits militants after twin bombings
Turkey has arrested more than 200 Kurdish officials and targeted PKK-allied forces in Iraq following bombings at a football stadium in Istanbul.
2 min read
12 December, 2016
Turkey has also targeted PKK positions in Iraq [Getty]

Turkey arrested nearly 200 officials from a pro-Kurdish party and struck Kurdish militants in Iraq on Monday in response to this weekend's twin bombings claimed by a radical Kurd separatist group in Istanbul.

The death toll from Saturday's attacks, which struck an Istanbul football stadium and a nearby park, rose to 44 on Monday, Health Minister Recep Akdag said.

Turkish jets pounded targets in northern Iraq, with the military saying it had hit "separatist terrorist organisation members", referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The armed forces said it struck targets in the Zap region of northern Iraq destroying the militants' headquarters as well as nearby shelters and gun positions.

And Turkish police detained 198 pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) officials over alleged links to Kurdish militants in a countrywide operation, state news agency Anadolu reported.

The actions are likely to raise fears Ankara is going further in its crackdown and acting out of revenge against pro-Kurdish politicians who stand accused of links to the PKK - a charge that the HDP denies.

The weekend's bloodshed was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), seen as a radical offshoot of the PKK.

TAK has claimed three major strikes this year in Istanbul and Ankara, killing a total of at least 73 people.

In the aftermath, a defiant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to fight terror "to the end."

Since the collapse of a ceasefire in July last year, Ankara has vowed to wipe out the PKK and has conducted several military operations against the group.

There have been frequent clashes between security forces and PKK militants and almost daily attacks on the military carried out by the group's fighters in the southeast.