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Two militants kill themselves in standoff with Turkish police

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By Umit Bektas

Two militants believed to be preparing a car bomb attack detonated explosives, killing themselves in a remote area near Ankara on Saturday after Turkish police told them to surrender, the provincial governor said.

The militants, believed to be a male and female, probably had ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) armed group, Ercan Topaca told reporters at the scene of the blast outside the capital.

“It looks like there is a high probability of a PKK link,” Ankara Governor Ercan Topaca said in comments broadcast by CNN Turk.

Video footage showed forensic teams in white overalls inspecting the site as police secured the area around a hut in flat countryside on the road to the town of Haymana.

Police seized two pieces of plastic explosives and 200 kg (440 pounds) of ammonium nitrate, the governor’s office said in a statement.

Ammonium nitrate is an ingredient in bomb-making.

The office said security forces launched an operation against the militants around 6 am (0300 GMT) at a stud farm some 30 km from the capital after a tip-off from Diyarbakir, the main city in the Kurdish heartland of southeast Turkey.

An identity card found at the scene, believed to belong to one of the would-be bombers, was of a man from the southeastern province of Bingol. A third individual was also being sought, the governor said.

The PKK has fought a three-decade insurgency, focused on the southeast, in which more than 40,000 people have been killed. It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

A two-year-old ceasefire between the group and the Turkish state collapsed in July last year, triggering renewed clashes and bomb attacks.

Leftist and Islamists militants have also carried out bombings in Turkey in the past, with jihadist group Islamic State blamed for some recent attacks.

On Thursday a bomb attack near a police station in Istanbul wounded 10 people. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the PKK, claimed responsibility for that blast on Friday.

 

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