NEW: Turkey's President ties Ankara attack to a different Kurdish group fighting in Syria
Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, a splinter group of PKK, claims credit for attack that killed up to 28
Group warns tourists to stay away from Turkey, saying it plans to target tourism economy
The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks – known as the TAK – claimed responsibility for this week’s deadly bombing in Turkey’s capital, calling it “revenge” for Turkish military actions and warning tourists their lives could be next.
The group, a splinter of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, described Wednesday’s attack that killed at least 28 people in central Ankara as a “suicide revenge mission” for Turkish military operations in the southeastern Turkish district of Cizre.
“This act was a revenge (for) the massacre of wounded civilians in basements in Cizre,” the group said in a statement on its website. “… We will act against every attack on the Kurdish people.”
TAK’s statements – including one in Turkish and another in English – blast what they call Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “fascist dictatorship” and vow more bloodshed as part of “our war of taking revenge.”
The English-language statement came with a warning for would-be Turkish tourists.
“Tourism is one of the important sources feeding the dirty and special war, so it is a major target we aim to destroy,” the TAK said. “We warn the foreign and native tourists not to go to the tourist … areas in Turkey.
“We are not responsible for who will die in the attacks targeting those areas. Turkey is not able (and will never be) to save you and its own people.”
Turkey ties attack to another Kurdish group
The Turkish government has claimed the attack was jointly carried out by a member of the YPG, the Kurdish fighting force in Syria, and PKK members based in Turkey, according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.
It’s not clear if the TAK had any direction, help or even support from these other groups.
According to state broadcaster TRT, Erdogan told reporters Friday that he had no doubt the Party for Democratic Unity, or PYD, or its 30,000-strong armed wing, the YPG, were behind the Ankara attacks.
The United States has designated both the PKK and TAK as terrorist organizations, but it has not applied the same label to the PYD or its armed wing – much to Erdogan’s chagrin. Instead, Washington has worked to help them militarily as they battle ISIS and other factions in Syria.
“If you are with us why don’t you declare PYD/YPG as terror terrorist organization(s),” Erdogan said. “What do you want from us? If you want documents and information, we have already given them to you.”
The Kurds, an ethnic minority spread in the intersecting parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, have long sought an independent state.
Kurdish groups besides the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks – namely the PYD, YPG and PKK – have denied involvement in the Ankara attack.
Top PKK leader Cemil Bayik has said his organization doesn’t not know who was directly responsible, though he hinted militant Kurds may be behind it.
“We know there are people who have conducted such acts before as retaliation of massacres in Kurdistan,” Bayik said in an interview with the PKK-affiliated Firat News Agency.