An Ankara court sentenced six defendants to 30 instances of aggravated life imprisonment yesterday for an attack by the terrorist group PKK in the Turkish capital two years ago.
Twenty-nine people were killed when a suicide bomber blew up his bomb-laden car next to shuttle buses carrying soldiers and civilians on Ankara's Merasim Street on Feb. 17, 2016 during the evening rush hour.
A lawsuit on the attack implicated 68 people, including senior members of the PKK which has been behind a campaign of violence targeting civilians and security forces since the early ‘80s. Most defendants are at large, including senior PKK leaders Murat Karayılan and Cemil Bayık. One of the defendants, Salih Muslum, a former co-chair of a group based in Syria affiliated with the PKK, was detained in the Czech Republic earlier this year but later released. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), which is affiliated with the PKK terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the attack, but security officials dismissed the claim and said that evidence suggested that it was carried out by the PKK's Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.
The court also handed down an additional prison term of 1,185 years for each defendant for attempted manslaughter and possession of explosive materials.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK - listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU - has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women and children.