Armed Kurdish Group Claims Turkey Airport Blast

mmmAn armed Kurdish group on Saturday claimed responsibility for an explosion near a plane at Istanbul’s second international airport which killed a female cleaner and wounded another.

“We … claim the attack carried out by mortar bombs at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport,” on Wednesday, the Freedom Falcons of Kurdistan (TAK) said on its website.

Airport cleaner Zehra Yamac, 30, died of head wounds hours after the blast on the tarmac at the airport on the Asian side of Turkey’s largest city. The wounded victim was also a cleaner.

The attack came as Turkey wages an all-out offensive against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which launched an armed insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for Kurdish independence, then pressing for greater autonomy for the country’s largest ethnic minority.

Turkish officials say TAK is a front for PKK attacks on civilian targets, but the PKK claims TAK is a splinter group over which it has no control.

The armed group, which had been silent for some time, claimed the attack had inflicted “serious damage” to the airport and five planes.

The Turkish military said Saturday nearly 200 PKK rebels had been killed in the army offensive in the southeast.

The operation, which has targeted the towns of Cizre and Silopi in the province of Sirnak as well as a neighbourhood in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the region, began in mid- December.

In a statement posted on its website, the army said 156 PKK rebels were killed in Sirnak and