The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) claimed responsibility on April 12 for a bomb attack the previous day on a police compound in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır that killed three people.
A statement on a PKK website said the militants had planted more than 2.5 tons of explosives under the annex of the police headquarters in the central Bağlar district.
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had confirmed that the incident was “a terror attack,” after initially calling the explosion an accident.
Speaking to private broadcaster Habertürk on April 12, Soylu said the attack occurred after militants dug a tunnel under the complex before positioning explosives.
“The explosion occurred while an assistant technician was repairing an armored vehicle there. As of last night, it became clear that it is a terror attack. There are around 12 people slightly injured in hospitals right now but what is more, another assistant technician was rescued from the rubble but he was martyred. One police officer was also martyred there. It has been revealed that it was a terror attack,” Soylu said.
Two civilian personnel, identified as Yunus Elaltunterin and Cengiz Tekin, and police officer Burhan Mercan were killed in the explosion that occurred under the repair shop of the compound.
“They [assailants] staged the attack through a tunnel dug from the outside. We scan our police buildings almost every month to prevent such a threat. In this case, they dug such a tunnel in a very short time. They staged the attack by placing explosives underground,” Soylu added.
The minister had previously denied any external involvement in the attack, saying the repairs on a vehicle had produced the explosion.
The Diyarbakır Governor’s Office later stated that around one ton of explosives, including RDX, ammonium nitrate, TNT and diesel, was used in the attack alongside a time-adjusted setup, according to criminal examinations.
A tunnel that was roughly 30 meters long was dug from the basement of an apartment adjacent to the compound to the repair shop, it stated.
The office said five suspects had been detained for alleged links to the attack while a further 172 were detained over their suspected links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
It said the treatment of four wounded people, including one police officer, was ongoing in hospitals across the province.
A funeral ceremony was held for Mercan and Tekin on April 12 at the provincial police headquarters. Mercan was sent to his hometown of İskenderun to be laid to rest while Tekin was taken to Bağlar district.
Elaltunterin was laid to rest in the province on April 11 following a ceremony at the headquarters.
The police compound was the scene of an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) car bomb attack on Nov. 4, 2016, that killed nine people and injured more than 100.
Separately, police detained 27 suspects during an anti-PKK operation in Istanbul early on April 12.
The operation came after counter-terrorism police received intelligence of potential attacks by PKK suspects who were reportedly preparing for attacks in city centers after receiving training in rural areas.
The 27 suspects were detained in operations in 15 districts while the search for another eight was ongoing. The detained suspects were taken to police headquarters for interrogation.
Police also seized a number of organizational documents and digital materials belonging to the suspects during the operations.