One Turkish soldier was killed and 11 were injured when a land mine exploded as a military bus was passing on a road in the Aegean town of Foça today.
The bus was carrying soldiers to the home of Turkey’s marines at the Foça Naval Base in the Aegean province of İzmir when an explosive device, allegedly planted by suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was remotely detonated at around 8 a.m.
The blast damaged the 24-passenger bus and shattered its windows, injuring the soldiers inside.
The explosion occurred 1.5 kilometers away from the base on a road recently opened to civilian traffic. The road is flanked by summer houses on one side and trees on the other. Several civilian vehicles were damaged in the blast.
Military and police respondents had already arrived at the scene when a second explosion hit a fire truck rushing to the blast zone, approximately eight minutes after the initial attack. No one was injured in the second blast, but the fire truck was hit by shrapnel.
Soldiers opened fire on woodlands after the second blast, leading witnesses to assume there was a clash. The barrage stopped after no one returned fire.
One wounded specialist sergeant who was taken to Foça State Hospital died due to the injuries he suffered, while 11 others were taken to various hospitals. Six soldiers with critical injuries were flown to Ege University Hospital in İzmir.
Doctors at the hospital made a call to İzmir citizens to donate blood for the wounded soldiers, especially type O- on the hospital’s official Twitter account. The required amount of blood was quickly found as nearly 4.000 people rushed to the hospital. Mobile medical stations were also established in front of the building as the facility was overburdened by donators.
Anonymous calls were reportedly made to the same hospital, asking how many soldiers had been brought in, how many were killed or wounded and if there were any officers among the injured. Officials started an investigation into the calls on the grounds they might be the connected to people responsible for the attack.
A 26-year-old pregnant civil servant working at the naval base, only identified by her first name Esin, said she escaped the attack by chance as she went to work late today. “Otherwise I would have been on that bus,” she said.
Commandos from nearby military units were deployed to Foça with helicopters to initiate an operation to find the assailants.
The Foça Naval Bases houses the Turkish Amphibious Brigade, which is the only location in the country where marines are trained. A marine battalion from the brigade was deployed in the southeastern province of Şırnak between 1993 and 2001 to participate in operations against the PKK. Soldiers from the brigade also served in Albania as peacekeepers.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.