ANKARA (AFP) — Two people suspected of planning a car bomb attack on the Turkish capital Ankara on Saturday blew themselves up after being confronted by police, averting what the justice minister called a “huge disaster”.
The suspects, who both died in the explosion, were believed to be preparing an attack when they set off the explosives, the official Anadolu news agency said.
“A huge disaster has been prevented. It is probable they would have attacked Ankara…. All signs are pointing to the PKK terrorist organization,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told the CNN-Turk broadcaster.
The bombing comes two days before the first anniversary of Turkey’s deadliest terror attack in its modern history in Ankara which left 103 dead. The attack was blamed on jihadists from the Islamic State group.
Ankara governor Ercan Topaca told reporters at the scene it was “highly likely” that the suspects had connections to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“The materials used, the construction and the way it was planned point to the PKK….” he said, quoted by Anadolu.
The PKK — proscribed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and US — has been waging a 32-year insurgency against the state in the country’s southeast.
Violence returned to the region after the collapse of a two-year ceasefire last year with hundreds of Turkish security forces killed and thousands of militants dead.
The governor said police swooped early on Saturday after a tip-off from Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish province in Turkey’s southeast.
No-one else was killed or injured in the blast understood to have taken place close to a black car in the town of Haymana, around 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Ankara, the governor’s office said in a statement.
The suspects were believed to have been hiding in a hut near a stud.
“The security forces launched the operation and warned (them) to surrender. A short while later (and) before any intervention, two terrorists confirmed to be a man and a woman detonated themselves,” the statement added.
In televised comments, Topaca also said the suspects were a male born in the eastern province of Bingol and an unidentified female. She was later named in Turkish media.
He added that the authorities were looking for a third person adding that the suicide bombers hung a Turkish flag on the car to avoid suspicion.
An ID card was also found at the scene, the statement said.
Forensic investigators wearing white overalls were inspecting the area of countryside where the burnt-out black car was found, an AFP photographer said.
On Friday, the Kurdish group Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) with ties to the PKK claimed responsibility for a motorbike bombing on Thursday near a police station in Istanbul which wounded 10 people.