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The Turkish government on August 22 blamed a Kurdish rebel group for a bomb attack that killed nine people near the Syrian border, amid concerns by ruling party officials that the militants may be developing links with the regime in Syria, and its civil war could have a destabilising effect on Turkey.
The explosion in the southern city of Gaziantep followed an escalation in fighting between Turkish forces and the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which had close ties in the 1990s to then Syrian President Hafez Assad – current leader Bashar Assad’s father. Turkey, which seeks the ouster of Assad, is sheltering nearly 70,000 Syrian refugees and has urged the United Nations to set up camps inside Syria for the displaced.
Turkish officials, including President Abdullah Gul, cited PKK’s hand in similar attacks as a sign that it was the likely perpetrator. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said any alleged link between the PKK and the Syrian regime in the Gaziantep bombing would be investigated, while Huseyin Celik, deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling party, said there were connections between Kurdish rebels and Syrian intelligence.