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Deadly Suicide Blast Hits Turkish Police Station

ICE Graveyard 1/05/2016 Charlotte Alfred
ATHENA IMAGE © Depo Photos via ASSOCIATED PRESS ATHENA IMAGE

GAZIANTEP, Turkey (Reuters) - Two police officers were killed and 23 people wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on police headquarters in the south- eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, the governor and police sources said, in one of two attacks on security forces on Sunday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but security sources said police raided the home of a suspected Islamic State militant believed to have carried out the attack and detained his father for DNA tests and questioning.

Turkey has suffered attacks recently both from Kurdish militants and Islamic State fighters, raising uncertainty at home and among NATO allies about spillover of conflict from neighboring Syria.

The Gaziantep-based suspect is believed to have detonated a bomb-laden vehicle just outside the gates of police headquarters on a street housing several other provincial government buildings whose windows were smashed.

"The father of a suspect who is believed to have carried out the attack has been detained. We have records of the suspect's links with Islamic State," a security source said.

A Turkish flag was hung on the side of the police headquarters building. Many shops were severely damaged. Shopkeepers and municipality workers cleaned streets covered with rubble strewn by the blast felt across the city.

Police, who cordoned off the area and increased security measures across the city, removed the pieces of a wrecked vehicle and collected body parts thought to be belonging to the perpetrator from the scene.

Nineteen police officers and four civilians were wounded in the attack, a statement from Gaziantep governor Ali Yerlikaya's office said. One police officer died at the scene and a second in hospital, a security source said. 

MULTIPLE THREATS

Several hundred miles eastwards along the same border, in the town of Nusaybin, three Turkish soldiers were killed and 14 others wounded in an armed attack by Kurdish militants, an army statement said.

Turkey is facing security threats on several fronts. As part of a U.S.-led coalition, it is fighting Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq and battling Kurdish PKK militants in its southeast, where a 2-1/2-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.

Turkish military sources said on Sunday drones from the U.S.-led coalition, drawing on intelligence from Ankara, had struck an Islamic State explosives depot in the northern Syrian town of Dabiq. Two Islamic State militants outside the building were killed and several others were thought to have been inside.

The province of Gaziantep, bordering Islamic State-held Syrian territory, is home to a large Syrian refugee population and there have been several police raids on suspected Islamic State militants there over the past months.

A wave of suicide bombings this year, including two in its largest city Istanbul, have been blamed on Islamic State, and two in the capital Ankara were claimed by a Kurdish militant group. The Sunni hardline group, which usually claims responsibility for its attacks has never done so inTurkey.

Last week a female suicide bomber blew herself up next to a mosque on a busy street in Turkey's fourth largest city of Bursa, wounding eight people.

Turkey has also faced attacks from far-left groups, mostly on police and security forces.

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