February 19, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish authorities on Friday detained three more suspects in connection with the deadly bombing in Ankara that Turkey has blamed on Kurdish militants at home and in neighboring Syria, while Turkey’s military pushed ahead with its cross-border artillery shelling campaign against U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia positions in Syria.

Anadolu Agency said authorities have now taken 17 people into custody as part of the investigation into Wednesday’s suicide car bomb attack, which targeted buses carrying military personnel and killed 28 people. It said the latest suspects are believed to be linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said three of the detained suspects are believed to have played “an active part” in the attack. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the attack was carried out by a Syrian national who was a member of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. He said rebels of the PKK, which has led a more than 30-year insurgency against Turkey, were also behind the attack.

Erdogan said Friday that Turkish authorities don’t have the slightest doubt that the YPG and its political arm, the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, were behind the bombing and said Turkey was saddened by its Western allies’ failure to brand them as terrorist groups.

Speaking to reporters following Friday prayers in Istanbul, Erdogan also said he would take up the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama later in the day. Anadolu reported late Thursday that Turkish artillery units were “intermittently” firing shells into Syria, targeting militia positions near the village of Ayn Daqna, south of the town of Azaz.

The leader of the main Syrian Kurdish group, Salih Muslim, has denied his group was behind the bombing, and he warned Turkey against taking ground action in Syria. Following the attack, Turkey stepped up pressure on the United States and other allies to cut off support to the militia group. Turkey views the YPG as a terror group because of its affiliation with the PKK.

The YPG, however, has been most effective in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. Ankara appears increasingly uneasy over the group’s recent gains across its border and has continued to shell the militia despite international calls for it to stop.

Davutoglu, accompanied by other ministers, placed 28 carnations at the site of the attack Friday in honor of the dead. Hundreds of people, meanwhile, filled two main mosques in Ankara for the funerals of at least eight of the victims.

The attack was the second bombing in the capital in four months.

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