Quantcast i24NEWS - Turkish police arrest 15 suspects in Kayseri bombing that killed 14

Turkish police arrest 15 suspects in Kayseri bombing that killed 14

Police and bystanders walk past a smouldering bus after an explosion in Kayseri, central Turkey which killed 13 soldiers and wounded 48
IHLAS NEWS AGENCY (IHLAS NEWS AGENCY/AFP)
Blast likely caused by car bomb which detonated next to bus near entrance of university

Fourteen Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens more wounded in a car bombing targeting off-duty conscripts being taken by bus on a weekend shopping trip, the latest in a string of attacks to rock Turkey in recent months.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said a total of 56 people were wounded, half a dozen of them seriously. The death toll has risen from 13 to 14 after one more soldier died in hospital, the official Anadolu news agency said.

Fifteen suspects have already been detained over alleged involvement in the plot, Kayseri state prosecutor Mustafa Arslanturk was quoted as saying by Anadolu.

According to Reuters, 12 of the injured are still in in intensive care, while six more are in critical condition.

Television pictures showed that the bus had been reduced to a smoldering wreck by the impact of the blast, as wounded were taken to waiting ambulances.

The explosion comes a week after 44 people were killed in an attack in Istanbul claimed by Kurdish militants.

Anadolu said that the bus was owned by the municipal transport authorities in Kayersi but was transporting Turkish soldiers who had taken permission to go to a local market for the day.

AFP

Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said in televised comments that the attack in Kayseri was "unfortunately similar" to last weekend's strikes in Istanbul.

The army said that the bus -- carrying low-ranking privates and non-commissioned officers -- was attacked after leaving the commando headquarters in the city.

The bus was owned by the municipal transport authorities in Kayersi but was transporting the soldiers who had taken permission to go to a local market for the day, the Dogan news agency said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been informed of the attack by the chief of staff General Hulusi Akar, Anadolu added.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was on his way to the city, it said.

Pay a heavy price

Turkey has seen a spate of deadly bombings in 2016 blamed both on jihadists and Kurdish militants that have left dozens dead.

In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, with authorities blaming the Islamic State group.

Another 57 people including 34 children were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

Kurdish militants have twice struck with bombings that killed dozens in Ankara in February and March.

IHLAS NEWS AGENCY (IHLAS NEWS AGENCY/AFP)

The country is also still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from all state institutions.

One of the main cities of central Turkey, Kayseri is a key industrial hub that is usually seen as a peaceful area.

It is well west of the southeast of the country that has been hit by months of deadly fighting between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the security forces.

There was no immediate indication of who was behind the latest attack. Large numbers of ambulances and police vehicles were sent to the scene.

The government slapped a temporary broadcast ban on footage of the attack, as is becoming typical in the aftermath of major incidents in the country.

The Turkish military has stepped up operations against the PKK after a fragile ceasefire broke down in the summer of 2015. Since then, there has been a dramatic surge in violence that shows no sign of ending.

Last week's double bombing in Istanbul which targeted police after a match of the Besiktas football club was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) seen as a radical offshoot of the PKK.

The attack in Istanbul prompted a sharp response from Erdogan, who vowed Ankara would "fight the scourge of terrorism right to the end".

"They should know that they will not get away with it ... They will pay a heavier price."

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