Police on Friday blamed autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels for a bombing that killed 10 people, saying there were similarities to previous attacks on military targets carried out by the guerrillas.
The bomb went off Tuesday at a bus stop near a park in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir — Turkey's largest Kurdish-majority city — and most of the victims were children. It was the deadliest bombing in Turkey since al Qaeda suicide truck bombers blew themselves up in Istanbul in 2003, killing 58.
Police spokesman Ismail Caliskan said examination of the debris found at the site showed that the materials used in the attack were similar to those used in recent bomb attacks on military targets near Diyarbakir, carried out by the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
The PKK has not claimed responsibility for the blast — an unusual attack on civilians in a predominantly Kurdish area.
The provincial governor's office said the bomb was placed in a water cooler and exploded while being transported, raising questions about whether the bomber accidentally detonated the bomb and killed himself — or whether he left the bomb at a place that was not its intended target.
Caliskan said the type of plastic explosives used in the attack, the walkie-talkie device the bomb was attached to, and other materials, were the same as those used in three PKK attacks on military cars and convoys. The walkie-talkie used was also the same model as more than a dozen devices seized in a truck in an anti-PKK operation two years ago, he said.
"Our bomb squads have established that the attacks were similar," he said. "All findings show that it was the terrorist organization."
Bombings in Turkey are most frequently attributed to — and often claimed by — Kurdish rebels who have been fighting for autonomy in the southeast since 1984 in a conflict that has killed more than 37,000. The rebels rarely target Kurdish civilians.
Caliskan said he did not expect the PKK to claim an attack that killed civilians.
The Kurdish media attributed the attack to "dark forces" in the Turkish state and military, and a known but shadowy ultra-nationalist group calling itself the "Turkish Revenge Brigade" allegedly claimed responsibility in a chilling Web message in which it vowed to "kill 10 Kurds in Diyarbakir for every Turk killed" by the rebels.
Caliskan gave little credence to the claims.
"We carry out our examination and assessments according to objective findings that we obtain," he said.
In new violence Friday, clashes between Turkish security forces and a group of PKK guerrillas near a rugged area close to the border with Iran left eight dead, the state-owned Anatolia news agency reported.
The rebels first opened fire on the security forces, killing a village guard, the agency said. The troops, later backed by airpower, clashed again with the rebels and killed six. An injured soldier died later in a hospital, the report said.
On Thursday, police in Diyarbakir used pepper spray to disperse demonstrators who burned tires and threw stones at police vehicles to protest the bombing, Anatolia reported. A number of protesters were detained, it said.
A small group of protesters also gathered in Istanbul calling on the government to reveal the details of the attack, and more protests were scheduled for Saturday.