* Car bomb near Syrian border killed nine people
* Turkey fears Syria conflict emboldening Kurdish militants
* Kurdish militants deny behind bombing
By Nick Tattersall and Ece Toksabay
ISTANBUL, Aug 21 Turkey is investigating
possible Syrian links to Monday's deadly car bomb attack near
its southeastern border, officials said on Tuesday, underscoring
fears that the conflict in Syria is fuelling instability on its
A car packed with explosives blew up close to a police
station in the industrial city of Gaziantep, around 50 km (30
miles) from the Syrian border, late on Monday, killing nine
people including a 12-year-old child.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but
senior ruling party officials in Turkey blamed the Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK), Kurdish militants designated as a terrorist
group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Turkey fears the PKK, which has waged an insurgency in the
southeast for almost three decades, is exploiting chaos in Syria
to expand its influence and has accused Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad of supplying it with arms.
Firat News, a website close to the PKK, carried a statement
from the group denying involvement in the attack, which took
place during the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the
Muslim holy month of Ramadan. But security sources said they
believed Kurdish separatists were responsible.
"Another aim of this attack was to send a message about
Turkey's foreign policy. The attack was planned through the
cooperation of the Mukhabarat (Syrian intelligence) and the
PKK," Samil Tayyar, a member of parliament for Gaziantep from
Turkey's ruling AK Party, told reporters.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was more cautious, saying
that while possible Syrian links to Monday's attack were being
investigated, there was no concrete information so far.
"If there is a similarity, the methods and mentality of the
terrorist organisation and Bashar al-Assad's forces are alike in
killing civilians during Eid al-Fitr," he told reporters in
SUSPECTED SYRIAN LINKS
Ankara initially cultivated good relations with Assad's
administration but relations have deteriorated since the
uprising against him began 17 months ago.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has become one of
Assad's harshest critics and has raised the possibility of
military intervention in Syria if the PKK becomes a threat
"It's known that the PKK works arm in arm with Syria's
intelligence organisation Al Mukhabarat. Assad is inclined to
view Turkey's foe, the PKK, as a friend," AK Party Deputy
Chairman Huseyin Celik told the Hurriyet newspaper.
In an interview with a Turkish newspaper at the start of
July, Assad denied that Syria had allowed the PKK to operate on
Syrian territory close to the Turkish frontier.
But Turkey suspects a major Syrian Kurdish movement, the
Democratic Union Party (PYD), of having links with the PKK.
Turkish analysts believe Assad let the PYD seize control of
security in some towns in northern Syria to prevent locals from
joining the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told a news
conference that the target of Monday's attack had been the
police station and that the car carrying the bomb had been left
in place by a tow truck shortly before the explosion.
He declined to comment when asked about possible Syrian
involvement, saying the investigations was ongoing.
The attack came two days after Turkey began handing out food
and other humanitarian aid to Syrians fleeing the uprising
against Assad. Gaziantep is home to a centre that receives
international aid as Turkey struggles to cope with an influx of
almost 70,000 Syrian refugees.