An attack on a military bus in Istanbul's Halkali district killed four Turkish soldiers and the daughter of another. Eleven others were wounded.
The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) have claimed responsibility for the bombing. The same group was responsible for a series of bombing on tourist resorts in Marmaris in 2006. Its exact relationship with the PKK is unknown, though Turkish security forces maintain it merely operates as a front for the PKK, committing the more atrocious and alarming attacks for which the PKK does not want to claim credit. For more on TAK, click see Aug. 25, 2008 post following speculation that the group was responsible for the 2008 bombing in Istanbul's Gungoren district.
An excerpt of coverage from Hurriyet Daily News:
The TAK statement said the group bombed the military bus because Turkey is “planning a massacre of the Kurdish people” and has adopted “a concept of aggression” against convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
The shuttle bus was the last in a three-vehicle convoy carrying military personnel who live in lodgings in Halkalı. The blast caused damage to the first two vehicles as well.
The driver of the attacked bus, Neşet Yeni, said he had been on the job for six months, working as a subcontractor for the Turuncu Turizm Company, which operates the buses. “There were 30 or 35 people on the bus. I brought out 10 injured people,” he said. “The commander of the vehicle opened fire a couple of times and called for help.”
Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ came to the scene of the attack after visiting the wounded soldiers in the hospital. The top general also met Gen. Hasan Iğsız, commander of the First Army, at the airport upon his arrival in Istanbul.
An eyewitness told broadcaster NTV that he heard a blast while he was in his house and rushed out to the street. “I saw a man running away after the blast. I also saw a man carrying a wounded girl and helped him,” the eyewitness said.
Buse Sarıyağ, 17, the youngest victim of Tuesday’s attack, is the daughter of soldier Ünal Sarıyağ, who was slightly injured. The teenager had been riding on the bus to attend the military’s private course for preparing high school students for the university entrance exam. Her younger sibling was on the bus as well.
Soldiers Bekir Çelik, Çağlar Bölük, Uğur Ekir and Duran Bayram also died in the bomb attack.