Turkish police officers secure the site of a terrorist attack near the Interior Ministry in Ankara, on Sunday. According to the Turkish minister of interior, Ali Yerlikaya, two police officers were injured when two people carried a bomb attack outside the ministry's gate, adding that one of the attackers blew himself up and the other was 'neutralized' by security forces. Photo by Necati Savas/EPA-EFE
Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Turkish warplanes conducted retaliatory air strikes Sunday night on suspected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq following a suicide attack in the capital Ankara, officials said.
The airstrikes were conducted at 9 p.m. Sunday, with Turkey's Ministry of Defense stating that 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the PKK, were hit, including caves, shelters and warehouses, in the Metina, Hakurk, Kandil and Gara regions of northern Iraq.
"A large number of terrorists were neutralized," the ministry said in a statement.
The strikes came nearly 12 hours after a suicide bomber drove up to the entrance of the Ministry of Interior in Ankara and detonated an explosive device. A second terrorist was "neutralized" at the scene by responding security forces, the ministry said in a statement.
An investigation has identified one of the terrorists as a member of the PKK, the ministry said, adding that identification of the other suspect was ongoing.
Two police officers were injured in the bombing, the Interior Ministry said.
Ministry officials added that the vehicle used in the attack was stolen from a veterinary health technician in Kayseri, a city located about 215 miles southeast of the capital. The technician was murdered, according to the officials.
The PKK is a Marxist-Leninist organization that formed in the late 1970s and seeks an independent Kurdistan, according to a report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service.
The militant group, which is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, has been in conflict with Turkey since at least 1984 when it began its armed insurgency against Ankara.
The organization has also been a cause for strained relations between Turkey and some of its Western allies, including the United States, which in 2015 partnered with Kurdish militias aligned with the PKK in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.
Turkey has also accused Sweden of harboring PKK terrorists, which has become a roadblock in Stockholm's ascension to NATO membership.
The attack occurred near the parliament building, where hours later on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to fight "until the last terrorist is eliminated."
"This morning's attack, in which two villains were neutralized thanks to the timely response of our security units, is the last flutters of terrorism. The scoundrels who targeted the peace and security of our citizens could not achieve their goals, and they will never achieve them," he said.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson issued a statement condemning the attack.
"We reaffirm our commitment to long-term cooperation with Türkiye in combatting terrorism and wish for quick and full recovery of the ones injured," he said.