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Turkey Strikes Kurdish Rebel Targets in Iraq Hours After Deadly Ankara Bombing

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's air force hit Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Monday, hours after a suicide car bombing in the capital killed 37 people and heightened tensions with the militants.

Nine F-16s and two F-4 jets raided 18 positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq, including the Qandil mountains where the group's leadership is based, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Ammunition depots, bunkers and shelters were among the targets hit.

Anadolu, citing unnamed security sources, said four people suspected of direct links to the bombing were detained in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa on Monday.

The report did not say in what way they were suspected of involvement. Police, meanwhile, carried out raids in the southern city of Adana, detaining 38 suspected PKK rebels, the agency reported. Fifteen suspected Kurdish militants were also detained in Istanbul, Anadolu said.

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said three more people died overnight from wounds suffered in the Sunday night's suicide attack that targeted buses and people waiting at bus stops in the heart of Ankara.

Around 125 people were wounded in the blast, with 71 people still hospitalized. Of those, 15 were in serious condition.

A senior government official told The Associated Press that authorities believe the attack was carried out by two bombers — one of them a woman — and was the work of Kurdish militants. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

37 people killed in car bombing in Turkey 1:25

It was the second deadly attack blamed on Kurdish militants in the capital in the past month and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to bring "terrorism to its knees."

The PKK has been designated a terror organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. A fragile peace process between the PKK and the Turkish state collapsed in July, reigniting a battle that has cost tens of thousands of lives since 1984.

As Turkey on Monday began to hold funeral services for at least 17 of the people who lost their lives, details emerged about some of the victims, which included the father of Galatasaray soccer team player Umut Bulut.

Anadolu said the player's father, Kemal Bulut, had watched Galatasaray play Ankara-based team Genclerbirligi in the city — after visiting his son at his hotel — and was returning home when the explosion occurred. Umut Bulut had returned to Istanbul in the evening unaware that his father had been caught up in the blast and learned of his father's death as he prepared to start training on Monday.

Image: Women mourn over the coffin of a car bombing victim during a commemoration ceremony in a mosque in Ankara
Women mourn over the coffin of a car bombing victim during a commemoration ceremony in a mosque in Ankara on Monday. UMIT BEKTAS / Reuters

Police officer Nevzat Alagoz, who also perished in the blast, was waiting for a bus to take him home after policing the game, Anadolu reported.

Another victim, Ozan Akkus, a 19-year-old engineering student, had lost his close friend in deadly twin suicide bombings that targeted a peace rally in the capital in October, Hurriyet newspaper said.