Davutoğlu: IS is prime suspect in Ankara bombings

Turkish prime minister Ahmed Davutoğlu said that Islamic State (IS) is the prime suspect in the 10 October attack in Ankara, that left at least 97 dead and hundreds injured, the deadliest act of terrorism in Turkey’s history. A suspected double suicide bombing took place in the capital during a march against the violence in Eastern Turkey, where the Kurdish PKK forces and the Turkish army have been fighting since July. Many victims of the bombings are Kurds and/or members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has led to a further increase in tensions between the HDP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The government announced three days of national mourning for the victims, including a halt to the campaigning for the November 1st snap elections by political parties.


Distrust and accusations

According to Davutoğlu, authorities are “close to a name, which points to one group”. Two senior security sources said that initial signs suggested IS was behind the attack, because of similarities to a suicide bombing in July that was reportedly carried out by IS in Suruç. HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş claims the death toll is at 128 and the government, despite “being aware of everything that happens in the capital” had not prevented “the massacre in Ankara”. Faruk Bildirici , a journalist working for the independent Hürriyet newspaper said that there were no security precautions in the area and the police showed up 30 minutes after the attack. Some witnesses called the rally a “trap” “designed and ignored” by authorities. Others pointed directly to the authorities’ involvement as “those who don’t want peace perpetrated those blasts”. Journalist Ahmed Takan claimed in his column in the Yeniçağ daily that the government had discussed an intelligence note hinting at the bombing five days ahead of the event, but failed to take measures.


Commemoration

On Sunday, the day after the bombings, thousands of people gathered at Sıhhiye Square in Ankara to commemorate those killed in the bombings. But the commemoration turned political when attendees shouted slogans condemning President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP. There was a confrontation between the police and attendees, who tried to lay flowers at the scene of the bombings, but were prohibited. The Police fired teargas at the attendees. Shortly after, Demirtaş and some others were allowed to lay flowers. The HDP was severely hurt in the attacks, as it lost a candidate for parliament and 11 members of a provincial youth branch. Spokesman Ayhan Bilgen said the HDP might cancel all the rallies for the upcoming elections, as they fear the security of these events cannot be guaranteed.


Political consequences

Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called for the resignation of Interior Minister Selami Altınok, as well as Justice Minister Kenan Ipek. PM Davutoğlu stated he wants to consult with the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), but excluded the HDP because Demirtaş blamed the government for the bombing. Both the MHP and CHP responded negatively to Davutoğlu’s idea. Although Erdogan condemned the bombing and called for "solidarity and determination as the most meaningful response to terror", it seems that the bombing has further deepened divisions in Turkey. According to head of Istanbul’s think tank EDAM Sinan Ulgen, the bombings may leave some AKP supporters questioning their loyalty as "the government is ultimately responsible for the protection of its citizens”. However, others believe a single ruling party, which the AKP hopes to be after the November elections, is stronger in the fight against terrorism. HDP honorary president Ertugrul Kurkcu said that despite fears concerning security the HDP is “eager for the election, whereas the dictator in the palace is fleeing the election”. The Interior Ministry has announced stricter security in the country to prevent further attacks and to allow the upcoming elections to take place in a secure manner.

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