Death toll in Turkey car bomb attack raised to nine
WATCH: Car bomb explodes in southeastern Turkey near Syrian border on Monday, killing at least nine and wounding dozens more.
Turkish authorities have increased the death toll of a bomb attack in southeastern Turkey to nine, as a 12-year-old girl has died of wounds sustained in the attack.
Interior Minister Beshir Atalay said on Tuesday that three other children were among those killed when a bomb concealed in a vehicle exploded near a police station in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border.
A seniorTurkish politician blamed a car bomb on Kurdish separatists, after it exploded near apolice station in a city near Turkey's southeastern border withSyria on Monday, killing at least nine people and woundingdozens more.
TV footage from Gaziantep showed a bus and the surroundingarea ablaze and smoke billowing into the sky as firemen tried tofight the fire. Ambulances ferried casualties to hospital whileanxious residents looked on.
"Unfortunately we lost eight citizens and nearly 60 peopleare getting treated at several hospitals according to ourinitial information," Erdal Ata, Gaziantep's governor, toldreporters.
The explosion, which officials said was caused by aremote-controlled car bomb, is likely to further strain alreadytense relations between Turkey and its war-torn neighbor Syria.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility butsoutheastern Turkey is frequently the scene of attacks by theKurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group byTurkey, the United States and European Union.
Turkey has accused Syria of supporting the PKK, whichlaunched a separatist insurgency in the region 28 years agoduring which more than 40,000 people have been killed.
"The PKK ... is trying to provoke our citizens by targetingthe civilian population directly. Our citizens must remaincool-headed," Omer Celik, deputy chairman of the ruling AKParty, wrote in his Twitter account.
Attack follows Turkey aid efforts
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has tried to limit theimpact of the conflict in Syria, where the PKK is exertinggrowing authority in some border areas. Ankara believes PKKmilitants are receiving arms from Syrian forces.
The attack came just two days after Turkey began handing outfood and other humanitarian aid on the border to refugeesfleeing the 17-month-old uprising against Syrian PresidentBashar Assad.
Turkey has opened a centre in Gaziantep to receiveinternational aid but is struggling to cope with an influx ofalmost 70,000 refugees. Before the conflict in Syria haltedtrade across the border, Gaziantep was a gateway into Turkey formany Syrians.
Turkey initially cultivated good relations with Assad'sadministration but relations have deteriorated sharply since theSyrian uprising began. Erdogan is now one of Assad's harshestcritics and has raised the possibility of military interventionin Syria if the PKK becomes a threat there.
Turkey suspects a major Syrian Kurdish movement, theDemocratic Union Party (PYD), of having links with the PKK.
Turkish analysts believe Assad let the PYD take control ofsecurity of some towns in northern Syria to prevent locals fromjoining the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Fighting between the Turkish army and PKK militants hasintensified in recent weeks in Turkey's southeastern Semdinlidistrict bordering Iran and Iraq.
Suspected PKK members ambushed a Turkish military bus inwestern Turkey earlier this month, an attack outside the group'sregular field of operation in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Earlier on Monday, two Turkish soldiers were killed by alandmine on a road in southeast Turkey, an attack also believedto have been carried out by PKK militants, security sourcessaid.