Twin bombings hit a peace rally organised by leftist groups in Ankara on the morning of October 10 in what has proven the deadliest bomb attack in Turkish history. The interior ministry initially announced a death toll of 30 people. The health ministry updated the figure to 86 during the day, while The Turkish Medical Association which participated in the rally puts the total killed at 97 with scores injured.
The attacks come ahead of a snap November 1 election called after a tense and historic vote in June failed to deliver the dominant Justice and Development Party (AKP) its customary majority in the parliament.
Since that time the government has carried out military strikes on the brutal ISIS terror group in the Middle East and recommenced its war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group that favours Kurdish independence from Turkey but which had reached a truce with the government in 2013.
The build-up to the vote has been characterised by an atmosphere of fear, violence and intimidation, especially in Eastern Turkey where state security forces have reportedly been harassing the local population, ostensibly in an effort to root out the PKK.
Selahattin Demirtaş, leader of the left-leaning pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) whose success in the June election shattered AKP's hold over the parliament, was quick to lay the blame for the blast at the door of the state security services.
Our Co-Chair #Demirtaş: This attack is not targeting our state and national unity, it is perpetrated by the state against the people.
— HDP English (@HDPenglish) October 10, 2015
The General Secretary of the union DISK who organised the rally also blamed the police, who attacked those trying to help the injured with teargas according to several reports.
Ankara'daki patlamada DİSK Genel Sekreteri Arzu Çerkezoğlu “Doğrudan polis tarafından yapılan bir saldırıdır bu” dedi HÜKMÜ VERMİŞ BİLE! — hacı yakışıklı (@haciykk) October 10, 2015
‘DISK General Secretary Arzu Çerkezoğlu said the attack in Ankara was “directly done by the police” He already made the judgement!’
The circumstances of the bombing were reminiscent of the Suruç bombing in July that left 32 people dead. The Suruç attack in eastern Turkey was claimed by ISIS and like the Ankara attack targeted Kurdish and leftist groups. The groups were gathering to help reconstruct the battered Kurdish-majority town of Kobane in Syria.
Security officials reported that the October 10 bombing was also carried out by a suicide bomber, who has yet to be identified.
NTV footage showing steel marbles scattered around the blast area in Ankara https://t.co/n8mjqtIPgd
— NOT MY… (@Meralink) October 10, 2015
The attacks have exposed again the polarised nature of Turkish society, with supporters of AKP accusing the HDP of bombing its own supporters to gain sympathy before the November 1 general election with the hashtag #HDPsVoteBomb.
— Esma Nur Yıldırım (@Esma_Nur_Yldrm) October 10, 2015
You will not get away with the murders you did to pass the [voting] threshold #HDPsVoteBomb
bir yerde bomba patlıyorsa ya siz koymuşsunuzdur, ya da sizin çocuklar. diyarbakır mitinginizi de suruç'taki gençleri de böyle patlattınız.
— esat ç. (@esatreis) October 10, 2015
If a bomb explodes somewhere, either you or your kids put it there. You bombed your Diyarbakir rally and the young people in Suruç like this as well.
In return, anti-government accounts blamed President Erdogan and the intelligence agency boss Hakan Fidan.
Hakan Fidan MİT müsteşarı olduğundan bu güne hangi katliamı önledi? Roboski, Reyhanlı, Suruç, Diyarbakır, Ankara… Yüzlerce can gitti.
— Özde-Mîr (@highlanderarda) October 10, 2015
Since he became head of MIT (intelligence agency), which murders did Hakan Fidan prevent? Roboski, Reyhanlı, Suruç, Diyarbakır, Ankara… hundreds of people have died.
On October 9, Turkish mafia boss Sedat Peker held a rally in support of the AKP government where he warned that “rivers of blood” would flow before the election.
“There'll be streams of blood as if the world's throat is slit.They'll understand when rivers of their blood flow.” http://t.co/i4ncVqcpWI
— Aykan Erdemir (@aykan_erdemir) October 10, 2015
Shortly after the bombings, the PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire, a move dismissed as an election ‘tactic’ by the AKP. HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş also called for the cancellation of all HDP rallies before the election.
The latter move puts further in doubt the likelihood that the election — which may yet be postponed — can be held in a fair and open climate. Many view the very notion of a vote in the current political environment as completely untenable.
As speculation and arguments about the bombing increased on social media, the government appeared to block access to Twitter.
There we go – Turkey turned Twitter off and I'm back on VPN.
— Ankaralı Jan (@06JAnk) October 10, 2015
— Lucy Kafanov (@LucyKafanov) October 10, 2015
The block was accompanied by a broadcast ban on coverage of the Ankara attack, limiting the likelihood of impartial information about the bombing. (Turkey's independent media has come under intense pressure from the government and nationalist thugs in recent times).
— TABLdotTV (@TABLdotTV) October 10, 2015
On Saturday afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Akdogan addressed a statement to RTUK (Radio Television High Commission) to impose a temporary broadcast ban about the bombings for reasons of ‘national security and public order’
Many on the ground in Turkey believe that the government bears some responsibility for tacitly approving attacks on the HDP. Outside the hospital in Ankara where the wounded were taken, a crowd gathered to chant ‘Murderer Erdogan’.
— Capulcu Tonella (@diehimbeertonis) October 10, 2015
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced three days of mourning following the October 10 blasts.
— Erik Meyersson (@emeyersson) October 10, 2015