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Kurdish Freedom Falcons claim responsibility for Ankara bombing

(CNN) – A Kurdish rebel group has claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack in the Turkish capital city that killed at least 35 people.

The bombing in Ankara on Sunday was the work of a female suicide car bomber, Seher Cagla Demir, who was identified in a statement posted Thursday on the website of the Kurdish Freedom Falcons, or TAK.

Who are the Kurdish people?

Before the claim of responsibility, Interior Ministry officials also identified the bomber as Demir and said she is believed to have received training from the Syria-based Kurdish rebels known as the YPG.

In the statement on its website, TAK — an offshoot of the Kurdish separatist group, PKK — confirmed that Demir led a team of attackers, referring to her as “our comrade.”

Ally or foe?

Turkey and the United States consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization, but the two NATO allies have been at loggerheads over the classification of the YPG. While Turkey views the group as an extension of the PKK and therefore a terrorist organization, the United States sees it as one of its most reliable and effective allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria. From time to time, Turkish artillery pieces have fired across the border at YPG positions in Syria.

 In February, TAK claimed responsibility for another bombing in Ankara that killed 30 people. The government said that attacker was a Turkish citizen who also traveled to Syria and apparently re-entered the country posing as a Kurdish Syrian refugee.

Opinion: A new era of Kurdish politics for Turkey?

After Sunday’s bombing, the Turkish military hit targets in northern Iraq in the Qandil Mountains where the PKK maintains a presence.

Security forces and the PKK have been fighting in provinces in southeastern Turkey since a ceasefire fell apart over the summer.

Some towns have been under curfew, with military operations to clear out what the government calls terrorists. But critics say the heavy-handed operations are collective punishment and security forces have killed civilians with impunity.

Many of Turkey’s biggest cities are on edge as well, with local authorities as well as those elsewhere taking precautions.

To this point, Germany’s Foreign Office said its embassy in Ankara, a German school in the same Turkish city and the German Consulate in Istanbul remained closed Thursday “based on a possible threat that we are still investigating.”

 

Police work at the site of an explosion in Ankara, Turkey, on Sunday, March 13. The blast killed at least 27 people and wounded at least 75 others, the governor of Ankara said in a written statement.