Turkey makes arrests in explosions that killed 17

A number of suspects in last week's deadly bombings in Istanbul that killed 17 people have been arrested, Turkey's interior minister announced Saturday.

Besir Atalay said most of the perpetrators of the bombings, which also injured 154, were in custody, but he declined to say how many people have been arrested.

The two explosions, minutes apart, hit a packed square in a residential area of Istanbul last Sunday. It was the deadliest attack on civilians in Turkey in five years.

“I'm pleased to tell you that the entire plot is illuminated; a big part of the perpetrators were arrested in the light of strong evidence that doesn't leave any room for doubt,” Atalay said.

“Those who helped, abetted, and actively took part in the bombings were arrested,” he said.

Atalay declined to say to which organization, if any, those arrested belonged. But earlier reports by the semiofficial Anatolia news agency said eight people arrested for alleged links to the bombings were also charged with being members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Turkey's political leaders blamed the blasts on the PKK, which denied responsibility.

The rebels have been fighting for self-rule in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting.

Turkey's military has hit rebels in the north of Iraq with air raids — and once with a ground incursion — since the country's parliament authorized cross-border operations late last year.

The military hit rebel targets in northern Iraq twice in the three days before the Istanbul bombings.