Turkey suspends sale of fertilizers containing nitrate

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey is temporarily suspending the sale of fertilizers containing nitrate that are used to make explosives, Turkey’s agriculture minister said Thursday, after two car bombings this week killed 17 people.

The country is suffering from a surge of violence since last summer when a fragile peace process with the Kurdish rebels collapsed and Islamic State militants mounted attacks inside Turkish territory.

On Tuesday, suspected Kurdish militants exploded a car bomb in Istanbul as a police bus was passing by, killing six police officers and five civilians. A day later, a suicide car bombing targeting a main police station in the town of Midyat, near the border with Syria, killed three police officers and three civilians. An Interior Ministry official has said authorities have strong evidence that both attacks were carried out by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. 

News reports said assailants had used a half-ton of explosives in the attack against the police headquarters in Midyat.

“As of now, the sale of fertilizers containing nitrate that are used for explosives has been frozen in Turkey,” Agriculture Minister Faruk Celik said in an interview on state television.

Turkey had already taken measures to control and track the sale of fertilizers but Celik said the measures had proven insufficient. He said security officials have temporarily seized 64,000 tons of fertilizers containing nitrate from retailers.

On Thursday, a police officer who was wounded in the Midyat attack died in a hospital, raising the death toll in the bombing to six. Two women police officers were also among the dead.

The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies.

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