Kurdish militants warn Turkey no longer safe for tourists

by WorldTribune Staff, June 13, 2016

A Turkish militant group has warned foreign tourists to stay away from the country.

The Kurdish Freedom Falcons (TAK), a break-away group from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has claimed responsibility for an attack on June 7 that targeted a police bus near Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.

Fire engines stand beside a Turkish police bus which was targeted in a bomb attack in Istanbul. /Reuters
Fire engines stand beside a Turkish police bus which was targeted in a bomb attack in Istanbul. /Reuters

Eleven people were killed in the attack that the TAK said was revenge for the Turkish army’s operations against militants in the southeast.

“We again warn foreign tourists who are in Turkey and who want to come to Turkey: foreigners are not our target but Turkey is no longer a reliable country for them,” the TAK said in a statement.

The TAK has claimed responsibility for two other attacks this year on military targets in Ankara which have killed 66 people and wounded more than 100.

“Some may miss peace, but we have just started the war,” the group said in its statement.

In May, the number of visitors to Turkey declined to its lowest rate in 17 years, a trend exacerbated by tensions with Russia, a key tourism market, over the war in Syria.

In April, the United States warned of “credible threats” to tourist areas in Istanbul and the resort city of Antalya, in particular to public squares and docks.

Attacks blamed on Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Istanbul’s commercial district left 17 tourists dead. The death toll from terrorist attacks across the country this year has passed 100.

Meanwhile, in a bid to attract more diving tourism, officials in western Turkey on June 4 sank a $93,000 Airbus A300 about 75 feet underwater.

Officials hope that the Airbus will function as an artificial reef to attract fish and encourage scuba and snorkeling activities.

Ozlem Cercioglu, the mayor of Kusadasi, a resort town south of Izmir where the sinking occurred said, “we expect some 250,000 domestic and foreign tourists per year to come here for diving. With the project, Kusadası will hopefully close this summer … with the fewest losses and make the people of Kusadasi and the people in this business smile.”