Kurdish Militant Group Claims Istanbul Bombing, Warns That Tourists Are No Longer Safe

Damaged vehicles are seen at the scene of an explosion in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, March 13, 2016. The explosion is believed to have been caused by a car bomb that went off close to bus stops. News reports say the large explosion in the capital has caused several casualties. (PHOTO CREDIT: Selahattin Sonmez/Hurriyet Daily via AP)
Damaged vehicles are seen at the scene of an explosion in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, March 13, 2016. The explosion is believed to have been caused by a car bomb that went off close to bus stops. News reports say the large explosion in the capital has caused several casualties. (PHOTO CREDIT: Selahattin Sonmez/Hurriyet Daily via AP)

A Kurdish militant group warned foreign tourists ­Friday that they are no longer safe in Turkey as its fighters ratchet up attacks on security forces across the country, an escalation many here fear could bring more deaths and cripple an already unstable economy.

The warning from the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, known in Kurdish as the TAK, came as the group asserted responsibility for a car bomb attack on police forces in central Istanbul this week. That attack killed at least 11 people near some of the city’s most famous landmarks and was the third bombing this year to hit neighborhoods popular with tourists.

“We warn all tourists who might plan to visit Turkey. . . . You are not our targets, but Turkey is no [longer] secure for you,” the statement posted on the TAK’s website said.

The TAK is a splinter group of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought the Turkish state for decades for autonomy for Turkey’s ethnic Kurds. The conflict, which has killed more than 40,000 people, reignited last year after a brief truce between Turkey and the PKK collapsed.

Since then, Turkish warplanes have struck hundreds of militant targets in northern Iraq, where the PKK is based, as well as in Turkey’s southeast, where many towns are majority Kurd. Turkey is home is to roughly 15 million Kurds, who have long been marginalized by the state.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham