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Turkey confirms deadly mortar attack on airport

Kurdish militants claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Istanbul airport [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 January, 2016

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A Kurdish group has claimed responsibility for an attack on an Istanbul airport in December, Ankara has said.
A mortar attack left one person dead and several aircraft damaged at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport on December 23, Turkish prosecutors said late on Thursday.

Four mortar shells were fired from a forested area around two kilometres (1.25 miles) from the airport, prosecutors said in a statement carried by the Anatolia news agency.

A Kurdish group calling itself the Freedom Falcons of Kurdistan had claimed the action as revenge for the Turkish army's military campaign in the Kurdish-dominated southeast.

But two weeks after the incident, this was the first official statement confirming an attack.

Airport cleaner Zehra Yamac, 30, died of head wounds while five planes suffered slight damage as a result of shrapnel from an explosion.

"The investigation has revealed that four mortar shells were fired at around 0215 (0015 GMT) from a wooded area about two kilometres from the airport," the statement said.

"Three of the shells landed on the apron next to each other while the other landed on a different area," it said, adding that it was "fragments of shrapnel" from the shells that had hit the nearby planes and the cleaning worker.

It said the forested area was still being examined to determine what the specific target was and who was behind the attack.

The Freedom Falcons of Kurdistan (TAK) said in a statement on December 26 that the airport attack was a response to the "fascist attacks that turn Kurdish cities into ruins".

The attack came as Turkey wages an all-out offensive against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), with military operations backed by curfews ongoing to flush out the rebels from several southeastern urban centres.


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