A Turkish court on Wednesday, November 21 sentenced three people to life in prison over a 2016 suicide bombing in Ankara that killed 36 people and injured hundreds and was claimed by Kurdish militant group TAK, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The car exploded in the early evening on March 13, 2016 near the Güvenpark and a major bus hub in Ankara’s central Kızılay district.
— Has Avrat (@hasavrat) March 13, 2016
Radical Kurdish group the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a splinter group of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), claimed responsibility for the car bomb blast.
TAK said the bombing was “carried out to avenge the 300 Kurds killed in Cizre” and claimed it targeted security forces. The group apologized for the “civilian losses.”
TAK also claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that killed 29 people in Ankara in February 2016. An Ankara court in September sentenced six people to life imprisonment over that attack.
It also claimed a number of other bombings in 2016 and January 2017 but it has claimed nothing since.
The Turkish state does not distinguish between the two groups, insisting that the TAK is part of the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies and which launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984 targeting greater autonomy for Kurds. The PKK denies having control over the TAK.
The U.S. government designated TAK a separate terrorist organization in 2008. The United Kingdom, European Union and others also classify the TAK as a terrorist group.
The United Nations has not designated the TAK as a terrorist organization.
The court on Wednesday convicted Mehmet Veysi Dolasan of killing 36 people and disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the Turkish state, sentencing him to 37 aggravated life sentences, as well as 16 years for possessing and transporting explosives, Anadolu reported.
Two other suspects, Sebahattin Karakoc and Azamettin Karakoc, were also handed aggravated life terms for disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state of Turkey, and 16 year imprisonment for possessing and transporting explosives.
Six other suspects were sentenced to jail from three to 12 years on several charges including “membership in a terror group”, according to the news agency.
It said three of the suspects died as the trial continued.
The court acquitted seven suspects, and the files of 36 others were separated from the case.
Turkey was from 2015-2016 shaken by a succession of terror attacks blamed on Islamic State and Kurdish militants as well as July 15, 2016 failed coup which Ankara says was planned by the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. He denies the charges.
The last major attack in Turkey, claimed by ISIS, was the New Year massacre by a gunman at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul just minutes into 2017. The assault left 39 dead.
With reporting from AFP