Turkish security forces have arrested at least 26 people in connection with the recent car bomb attack in the country’s Kurdish-majority province of Sanliurfa, which claimed the lives of two civilians and left more than a dozen others injured.
An explosive-laden car was remotely detonated late on Friday in the garden of a housing complex for judges and prosecutors in the southeastern town of Viransehir. An 11-year-old boy and a 27-year-old neighborhood guard were killed in the blast.
“As of last night a total of 26 people had been detained and our security forces are conducting the necessary work,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said during a news conference at Viransehir courthouse on Saturday.
Soylu said the vehicle was exploded just as a security guard, who saw it being parked, was about to intervene with a gun, adding that the force of the explosion killed the guard on the spot and caused damage to 14 buildings nearby.
The Turkish interior minister further noted that eleven people, including the public prosecutor's wife, remain hospitalized. Two of the injured are said to be in a critical condition.
Earlier, the Sanliurfa provincial governor's office announced in a statement that the owner of the vehicle used in the attack was among the detainees.
Sanliurfa Provincial Governor Gungor Azim Tuna said the attack was carried out by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants.
A shaky ceasefire between the PKK, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984, and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.
Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against the PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as northern Iraq and Syria.
Three senior Gulenists nabbed in Istanbul
Meanwhile, Turkish police forces have arrested two former prosecutors and one judge on charges of affiliation to the movement of Pennsylvania-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses to have masterminded last year’s failed coup.
The three were arrested in the Basaksehir district of Istanbul on Friday. Turkish security officials also seized fake identity cards during the raids.
Ankara says it has been successful in significantly diminishing the power of Gulen’s supporters in state institutions following the botched July 15, 2016 putsch.
Gulen has condemned the coup attempt and denied any involvement in it.
Turkish officials say over 240 people were killed and more than 2,100 others injured in the coup attempt.
Tens of thousands of people, including military personnel, judges and teachers, have been suspended, dismissed or detained as part of the post-coup crackdown.
According to a survey conducted by the official Anadolu news agency, a total of 40,832 suspects have been arrested since the coup attempt.