Turkey has been quick to retaliate for the suicide bombing of the Interior Ministry headquarters in Ankara on Sunday. Shortly after the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a Kurdish organisation considered terrorist by Turkey, the EU and the United States - claimed responsibility for the attack that left two policemen wounded, the Turkish army launched an air operation against Iraqi Kurdistan with the aim of "neutralising the PKK", the Turkish Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
According to the ministry's statement, the Turkish air force destroyed 20 PKK targets, including bunkers, shelters and warehouses in the northern Iraqi regions of Metina, Hakurk, Kandil and Gara.
Second angle of the moment 2 terrorists attacked the Ministry Buildings in Ankara,Turkey— North X (@__NorthX) October 1, 2023
One of the them blow himself up and the other was killed by authorities
Turkey air strikes Iraq,destroying 20 targets of the PKK after the attack in Ankara #Turkey #Turkish #Turkiye… pic.twitter.com/MShcnZ0KXv
"Many terrorists were neutralised," the statement said, citing the right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter to justify the operation.
Hours earlier, two PKK members carried out a bomb attack in front of the Interior Ministry. Both were killed on the spot, one after blowing himself up and the other after being shot by security forces. "One of them blew himself up, while the other was shot in the head before he had a chance to do so," Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said. Police found several firearms, C-4 explosives, hand grenades and a rocket launcher at the scene, according to a ministry statement.
🇹🇷 #Turkey: The PKK carried out a suicide bombing today targeting the Interior Ministry in Ankara. Two police officers were wounded by the blast, with a second PKK militant killed in a shootout with police.https://t.co/HZ9u4aPFgs pic.twitter.com/HneLmMtf8S— POPULAR FRONT (@PopularFront_) October 1, 2023
The minister also said that the fight against "terrorism, its collaborators, drug traffickers, gangs and organised crime organisations will continue with determination".
The two terrorists arrived at the scene of the attack in a car they had earlier stolen from a veterinarian in the central province of Kayseri, according to the Interior Ministry. Several pro-government media outlets have indicated that the two attackers shot the man in the head and subsequently threw his body into a ditch.
The Interior Ministry has also identified one of the terrorists as a member of the PKK, while the investigation to identify the second is still ongoing. The Kurdish organisation, for its part, acknowledged responsibility, announcing that it had carried out "a sacrificial action against the Turkish Interior Ministry".
The attack came before Turkey's parliament resumed its activities after its three-month summer recess with an opening speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan insists on establishing 'safe zone' on Syria border
Despite what has happened, the Turkish leader has addressed the House as planned, vowing that terrorists "will never achieve their goals". "The villains who threaten the peace and security of citizens have not achieved their goals and will never achieve them," he stressed.
Erdogan also insisted on his goal of creating a 30-kilometre "safe zone" along Turkey's border with Syria to protect its southern border from attack. To this end, Ankara has launched incursions into northern Syria since 2016 to combat Daesh, as well as the Kurdish YPG militia, which it considers an extension of the PKK.
Similarly, Turkey has also carried out numerous offensives against the PKK in northern Iraq, which has raised tensions with Baghdad.
Sunday's attack is the first in Ankara since 2016, when a car bomb killed 38 people and injured 125 in the central neighbourhood of Kızılay. This attack was attributed to TAK, a PKK-like group.
The most recent recorded attack on Turkish soil occurred in November 2022 in Istanbul and claimed the lives of six people, including two children. The Turkish authorities blamed the attack on the PKK and the YPG.