Awful news reports…

I was really rather hoping both Turkey and Pakistan would stay out of trouble for a while while I was away…. but that was obviously too much to hope for/  there was a bombing in Ankara on 28th May.  Two bombings in Quetta over the last week – one at the train station and one at an office block where someone drove a truck full of explosives into the building and turned it into a car park!!!  Things are not looking good on the travel advisory service since these latest rounds of random violence.  News today on Turkey and on Pakistan as follows:

Turkey-Iraq border tension grows
Tension is rising on Turkey’s border with Iraq amid speculation Ankara may be about to launch an incursion to tackle Kurdish rebels.

Turkey is continuing a military build up and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to rule out action. Turkey blames rebels of the PKK group for a recent suicide bombing in Ankara and a landmine attack on troops. The PKK has been fighting for an ethnic homeland since 1984. Turkey blames the group for 30,000 deaths since then.

Turkish military operation in Izmir, western Turkey, 25 May

Airspace breached

Reports from south-east Turkey say the military build-up includes about 20 tanks being sent to the Iraq border. Turkey has an ongoing military campaign against the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party, inside its borders but the US has warned Ankara that sending troops into Iraq would only complicate the situation.

Last week two US F-16 fighter jets based in Iraq made an incursion into Turkish airspace that Turkish media said was an attempt to intimidate Ankara into refraining from any action inside Iraq. The US said the violation of the airspace was “unintended” and was under investigation. Mr Erdogan warned Washington there should be no repeat. In an interview with the private NTV news channel he said Iraq the US and Turkey should carry out a joint operation against the PKK.  `When the United States says that they do not consider a unilateral operation right, this could mean that we can carry out an operation altogether,” he said.

However, when asked if he had given an assurance to the US that Turkey would not carry out its own operation, he said: “We cannot make any concessions to this end.” Thousands of PKK members are thought to operate in mountainous regions of Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq. Pressure for renewed action mounted last week after a landmine attack killed six Turkish troops close to the Iraq border.

Two days earlier a suicide bombing killed six people in Ankara. Authorities blamed the PKK but the group denied any involvement. Analysts say with national elections scheduled for July, Mr Erdogan may feel the need to act strongly

Pakistani police in bomb arrests

Police in the south-western Pakistani province of Balochistan say they have detained 12 suspects over a series of deadly blasts on 26 and 27 May.

The attacks in the provincial capital, Quetta, left two people dead. Afterwards a gun battle between militants and security forces claimed another four lives on 28 May. The attacks come as nationalist rebels, fighting for greater autonomy, have increased their activities in the province after a year-long lull.

Rescuers at one of the Quetta blast sites   

Gun battle “We have arrested a dozen suspects,” local police chief Rahmatullah Niazi told a local TV channel.However, militant activity continued across the province.

Hours after the arrests, a bomb blew up outside a government building in Kharan district approximately 200km (125 miles) south of Quetta. A day earlier, a gun battle between tribal militants and intelligence agents backed by pro-government tribesman left four people dead and at least seven injured. Both the militants and the pro-government tribesmen belong to the Bugti tribe. The fight took place after intelligence officials, backed by the tribesmen, moved to arrest a wanted militant in a busy market in the eastern Jaffarabad district.


Militant activity 
At least one of the dead and two of the injured were bystanders. The violence – which first began in 2000 – reflects the recent rise in the level of armed activity after a 10-month ceasefire. That began after the security forces killed one of the rebel leaders, Nawab Akbar Bugti, in a battle in August 2006. Dozens of militants and security personnel were also killed in the fighting, which stretched over two days. The remaining leaders of the resistance are said to have since gone underground or abroad.

Analysts are divided over whether the recent incidents suggest a revival of militant activity or are just the dying breaths of Baloch nationalism. But local correspondents are adamant that the militants are staging a comeback, and will increase their attacks in the coming months.

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