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Kurdish militants deny Turkish claims they carried out Istanbul attack


November 14th, 2022

Ahlam Albashir, a Syrian national and the main suspect for the attack, after being captured.

The armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) denied any role in an attack on a main Istanbul shopping street, shortly after Turkish officials blamed Kurdish militants for the deadly blast.

Six people died and 81 were injured when a bomb struck Istanbul’s popular pedestrian thoroughfare İstiklal Avenue, timed to strike when it was most crowded. Turkey’s justice minister, Bekir Bozdağ, said that “a woman sat on a bench there for 45 minutes”, and that the explosion occurred moments after she left.

The Turkish interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, said early on Monday the attack was planned in a Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria, blaming militants from the PKK and the People’s Defence Units (YPG).

The PKK denied responsibility for the attack. “We have nothing to do with this incident and it is well-known by the public that we would not target civilians directly or approve of actions directed at civilians,” they said, in a statement attributed to the headquarters command of the People’s Defence Centre (HSM), the armed wing of the group, which is banned in Turkey, the US and the EU.

Hours earlier, Turkish officials named a Syrian national, Ahlam Albashir, as the primary suspect in the attack. State-run news agency Anadolou featured video and images of an early-morning raid on Albashir’s residence and her detention. The Istanbul police department said 46 people had been arrested in a series of early-morning raids and taken into custody.