ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Kurdish militants on Friday attacked a police checkpoint in southeast Turkey with an explosives-laden truck, killing at least 11 police officers and wounding 78 other people, officials and the state-run news agency said.
The attack struck the checkpoint 50 meters (yards) from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly-Kurdish Sirnak province that borders Syria, the Anadolu Agency reported.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings targeting police or military vehicles and facilities. Authorities have blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, for those attacks.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed the death toll, saying it was a suicide attack carried out with an explosives-laden truck. He vowed to “destroy the terrorists.”
“No terrorist organization can take the Turkish Republic hostage,” he told reporters in Istanbul. “We will give these scoundrels every response they deserve.”
Television footage showed black smoke rising from the mangled truck. The three-story police station was gutted from the powerful explosion.
According to Sirnak governor’s office, three of the wounded were civilians. The Health Ministry sent 12 ambulances and two helicopters to the site.
Violence between the PKK and the security forces resumed last year, after the collapse of a fragile two-year peace process between the government and the militant group. Hundreds of security force members, militants and even civilians have been killed since.
Turkey has also seen a rise of deadly attacks that have been blamed on Islamic State militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in southeast Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul’s main airport in June that killed 44 people.
Turkey sent tanks across the Syrian border this week to help Syrian rebels retake a key IS-held town.
Since hostilities with the PKK resumed last summer, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed, according to the Anadolu Agency. Human rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed.
The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies.
The attacks on police come as the country is still reeling from a violent coup attempt on July 15 that killed at least 270 people. The government has blamed the failed coup on the supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on his followers.
On Thursday, Kurdish rebels opened fire at security forces protecting a convoy carrying Turkey’s main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the northeast, killing a soldier and wounding two others, officials said.
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