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HBDH Claims Deadly Bombing of Bus Transporting Prison Guards in Bursa, Turkey
The Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement (HBDH) has just claimed the deadly April 20th attack that killed one prison guard and injured others in Bursa, Turkey, four days ago. A bus transporting roughly 30 prison guards was traveling through the Osmangazi district of Turkey’s fourth-largest city when an IED was remotely detonated beneath the center-right side of the shuttle around 8:00 AM. It was the first such HBDH attack in a major Turkish city since 2017.
Analysts initially looked toward the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed organization considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US Department of State and the European Union. If it is true, today’s HBDH claim would confirm PKK involvement in the attack, as the latter is one of nearly a dozen core militant left-wing Kurdish and Turkish organizations that comprise the HBDH alliance.
The Governor of Bursa Province told Turkish reporters at the scene that the IED had been fixed to an electrical pole and detonated as the bus passed by, indicating the attackers were aware of the bus’s route. One of the wounded remains in serious condition.
The HBDH was formed on March 12th, 2016, in order to combine “Turkey and Kurdistan revolutionary and socialist forces in all areas, including armed struggle against the collaborationist fascist AKP”—or the ruling right-wing Justice and Development Party of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the communique announcing its formation states, the HBDH is somewhat of a grand coalition comprised of both Turkey’s many armed Marxist-Leninist guerrilla outfits and those left-wing Kurdish organizations currently engaged in armed struggle against the Turkish state, most of which having direct ties to the PKK. The PKK are themselves a principal of HBDH, while many of the Turkish communist organizations making up the HBDH have also been directly involved in assisting Kurdish militants against Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) in neighboring Syria’s Rojava region.
HBDH guerrillas seem to have stepped up their urban campaign in Turkish cities as the TAF intensifies its operations against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. One day after the bus bombing, HBDH militants claimed to have attacked two police officers using hand grenades in the mostly-Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey. Footage of the attack was posted on social media, but it is unclear whether either officer was killed or injured. HBDH attacks typically target either the TAF or members of the Gendarmerie General Command. In July 2016, just after the announcement of its formation, HBDH ambushed Turkish police officers with small arms including automatic rifles and hand grenades in an attack that Turkish media says killed three officers and wounded others, while the HBDH claimed to have killed eleven officers.
In their claim for the fatal April 20th bus bombing in Bursa, the HBDH say that they specifically targeted prison guards for the treatment of their comrades and sympathizers in Turkish prisons, and add that they killed one while injuring another thirteen officers—the latter figure being disputed by the Turkish press:
The action we took to account on April 20 is also a warning to prison directors, guards, and Forensic Medicine officials who signed the reports that approved the murder of the prisoners. Do not add to your crimes! Stop the attacks on the prisoners thrown in the dungeons for fighting for freedom, justice and socialism! […]
We encourage every young person, every woman, every poor, every worker, whose heart beats with the passion for freedom and justice, to embrace this just, humane, honorable and moral struggle, to support the people's militia and the guerrilla, to join the ranks of the united revolution, to support our peoples of Turkey and Kurdistan, to support our peoples of fascist and denial colonialism. To raise its voice against the invading genocidal attacks it has relaunched in Zap, Metîna and Avaşîn, and the fascist state terrorism that it is preparing to increase in the coming months, from Istanbul to Amed, from Izmir to Kars; We call on the oppressed to organize the united resistance and turn the working-class districts into demonstration areas. […]
Destroy the Dungeons, Freedom to the Prisoners!
Freedom to Revolutionary Prisoners!
We Will Destroy Fascism, We Will Win Freedom!
With the launch of the TAF’s operation against PKK forces in the north of neighboring Iraq, it is likely that there will be more similar attacks within Turkey itself and, consequently, an increase of TAF security operations within Turkey as its drones and manned aircraft continue to pound Kurdish guerrillas in their mountain hideouts. The HBDH will likely continue to look for targets of opportunity in urban centers that both afford them plenty of solidarity capital with aligned movements, while imposing tangible costs upon Turkish security forces.