ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party described an Islamic State attack on the Syrian border town of Kobani as a massacre and blamed it on Turkish state support for the militants, comments that will fuel tension in Ankara amid attempts to form a government.
Islamic State fighters launched simultaneous attacks against the Syrian government and Kurdish militia overnight, with at least one car bomb in an area near the border crossing with Turkey. Hospital officials said at least 15 people were killed and 70 wounded.
“The Turkish government has supported ISIL for years. Today’s massacre is a part of this support,” said Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), referring to Islamic State.
The pro-Kurdish HDP entered parliament for the first time after clearing a 10 percent threshold in the June 7 elections.
Its success helped to deprive the governing AK Party founded by President Tayyip Erdogan of a majority for the first time in over a decade. The AKP now needs to find a coalition partner.
Erdogan, who has accused the HDP of links with Kurdish militants, angrily rejected the charges, accusing the party of being manipulated by “international lobbies” and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
“No one has the right to portray Turkey as being on the same line as terrorism,” Erdogan told a business group at a Ramadan-fast-breaking dinner, according to CNN Turk news channel.
“After these reprehensible attacks, we see that circles close to the separatist organization, in other words, the political party, have undertaken a slanderous defamation campaign that knows no principles, morality nor bounds that targets our nation,” he said, referring to the HDP.
Turkey, a Sunni Muslim nation with a secular constitution, is a member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, although its partners have urged it to do more.
Yuksekdag told reporters there was a “high probability” that the attackers on Thursday had entered Kobani from Turkey. Ankara has denied such allegations and said the attack was staged from Jarablus, to the west of Kobani.
“The remarks of Turkish politicians are null and void for us. It is up to the Turkish government to prove it does not support ISIL,” she added.
Reporting by Gulsen Solaker and Ayla Jean Yackley; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan, Dominic Evans, Toni Reinhold