The People’s Defence Forces (Hêzên Parastina Gel, HPG) assumed responsibility for Monday’s explosions in the southern Turkish province of Mersin.
“This action was carried out as a response to the oppression in prisons, massacres, and use of chemical weapons against the guerrilla,” the HPG, the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said in a statement on Thursday.
The group identified the two militants involved in the attack as “Sara and Rûken”, using their noms de guerre. The two young women’s names are Dilara Ürper and Emel Feremez Hisên respectively.
The information HPG provided differs from the initial statements by Turkey’s Interior Ministry, who identified one of the two women as Dilşah Ercan, with nom de guerre Zozan Tolan.
The Turkish government “wants to create an illusion that they know everything, have spies everywhere, but are unable to obtain any information on either the identity of our comrades or the character of the action. The fascist government has presented society with a false scenario to hide its own failings”, the HPG said.
The two HPG militants “planned their action with mastery to avoid any harm to civilians”, the group continued.
Sixty six HPG militants were killed in Turkey’s attacks in Northern Iraq “using banned munitions and chemical weapons”, according to the group. The militant referred to as Sara had been affected by one such use of chemicals by the Turkish army in Iraq last year, HPG said.
“The government knew Zozan Tolan was not part of this action, but they wanted to use her to pressure her family and certain groups,” HPG said.
Pro-government outlets and social media accounts have been accusing Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) of “supporting terrorism” over Dilşah Ercan, who was arrested over her work with the Kurdish-language newspaper Azadiya Welat.
Ercan was accused of membership in a terrorist organisation in 2010, and was cited in the CHP’s 2013 report on journalists behind bars in Turkey.
Ercan was “cited as a journalist in reports prepared by journalists’ organisations and independent observers a decade ago”, CHP Deputy Chairman Veli Ağbaba, one of the authors of the report, said in response.
The Ercan family home was raided at dawn following the explosions, Dilşat Ercan’s father and three siblings taken into custody, according to initial reports. A Mezopotamya Agency report later revealed that at least 10 members of the family were in police custody, including spouses of Ercan’s siblings.
“The government seeks vengeance from the people with the mass arrests, pressure and torture against them, in an attempt to hide its failure against our action,” HPG said.
The action was planned and conducted completely independently from any organisation in northern Syria, it continued. “Claims that the action was organised from Syria are complete bogus. The government has created this lie to target its opponents.”
HPG also called for protests against Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons, and said:
“As long as inhuman torture in prisons, genocidal practices against our people, and the use of chemical weapons continue, similar actions will follow.”