Turkey arrests soldiers for ‘helping terror group’

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ISTANBUL: Turkey has arrested five soldiers in connection with a deadly suicide attack on the military claimed by a Kurdish radical group in the central city of Kayseri, state media said Friday.

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A bus—carrying low-ranking privates and non-commissioned officers—was attacked after leaving the commando headquarters in the city to take the off-duty soldiers on a shopping trip on December 17.

The soldiers, who were based at the same headquarters, are accused of “helping a terrorist organization” and “leaking military information,” including the time the bus would leave, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

Fourteen soldiers died in the explosion and dozens were wounded.

The attack in Kayseri, an industrial hub in the heartland of Anatolia, was one of many in Turkey in a bloody 2016.

A “revenge squad” from the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), seen as a radical offshoot of the outlawed PKK, targeted the off-duty conscripts and “successfully carried out the attack,” the group said in a statement published by the pro-PKK Firat news agency.

The shadowy organization is seen by some analysts as more extreme than the PKK although the Turkish government says it is merely a front for the better-known group.

The TAK has claimed a string of bombings in Turkey over the last year, including a December double bombing near the Besiktas football stadium that left 46 people dead.

AFP

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