PKK splinter claims attack on Turkish airport

Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility for an explosion at a major Turkish airport in Istanbul earlier this week that killed one person.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) - Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility for an explosion at a major Turkish airport in Istanbul earlier this week that killed one person.

A statement dated Friday on a website with the same Kurdish name of the TAK that is thought to be a splinter of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) said "the attack with mortar shells" was in response to "the dictatorship of [the Turkish President Recap Tayyip] Erdogan and [the ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP."

An explosion Wednesday that hit Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport tarmac killed an aircraft cleaner, wounded two of her colleagues, and damaged five planes.

The TAK statement accused the Turkish President and media of lying about the attack "so as to demonstrate to the world that the [Turkish Airspace] was safe. The attack was the beginning of "a new era of activities," the militant Kurdish group added.

The group said "the fascistic Erdogan dictatorship" would not "live in peace."

The airport attack is a first by the group in four years since it killed at least two Turkish soldiers and wounded more than 30 others in a mine explosion in a rural area of the Aegean Turkish province of Izmir, in August 2012.

It also gave "a warning" to international airlines and foreign tourists that the TAK "will not be responsible for their safety of life," in an apparent hint to future attacks.

The United Kingdom Foreign Office issued a travel advice to Turkey on the day of the deadly attack, adding that Sabiha Gokcen Airport remained open. The advice warned against all travel to within 10 km of the Turkish border with Syria and "all but essential travel" to the Kurdish majority border provinces of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay and Siirt, Tunceli (Dersim), Diyarbakir and Hakkari.

The United States, European Union, and the UK all designate the Kurdish group alternatively known as "Kurdistan Freedom Hawks" a terrorist organisation, but not Turkey, as Turkish authorities do not consider the TAK, active since 2004, separate from the PKK.