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At Least 86 Killed in Explosions at Ankara Peace Rally


Ankara – image by Jorge Franganillo. Creative Commons.

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.

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.

‘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.

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.

You will not get away with the murders you did to pass the [voting] threshold #HDPsVoteBomb

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.

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.

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.

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).

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’.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced three days of mourning following the October 10 blasts.

Global Voices contributor Nazli Yirtar provided translations for this article.
  • Pingback: Who Bombs a Peace Rally? An Unprecedented 86 Dead in Turkey capital as Accusations fly | Informed Comment()

  • davidgraeber

    It would be nice if the international media pointed out that there have been no bombings of civilians in Turkey this year that were NOT directed against people that Erdogan had condemned for “supporting terrorism” (i.e., for being tacitly on the side of the PKK.) Or that the PKK, who for some reason we always have to refer to as “terrorists,” never carry out bombings of civilians but only attack the security forces. Or, even, that Turkey is not actually at war with ISIS. I keep asking if anyone can give me an example of a Turkish military attack on ISIS. Everyone says the same thing: the day the Turkish government announced it was going to war with ISIS there were two symbolic attacks, and since then, there have been none. Zero. There have however been over 500 airstrikes against the PKK (who are, of course, actively fighting ISIS in Shengal and elsewhere.)

    Erdogan’s line – gamely repeated in many mainstream media sources – that somehow it’s ISIS who is “retaliating” against Turkey by attacking the HDP, and Kurdish and Alevi leftists, would be a little like Hitler declaring he’s at war with Mussolini, never actually attacking Mussolini, but then insisting that Italy was sending in secret bombers to retaliate against Germany who for some odd reason only seemed to blow up Communists and Jews.

    • Charles Turner

      well said

  • It seems as the #AnkaraBombing is directly connected to the Turkish elections. The AKP accusations towards HDP that ‘they put the bombs to gain votes’ is shockingly inhumane, profoundly shamefull and a pure characteristic of the sultan’s dogmatic monarchy.

    100+ people marching for peace have died. The police didn’t find the suspects. People directly accuse the secret intelligence (MIT) for hiding behind the bombings. Turkey’s “deep state” is here for another time to shake peace and throw human blood in the center of the capital.

    If ISIS is hiding behind this bombing, then ask yourself why Erdogan is bombing the Kurds that really fight ISIS…It seems as if ISIS is the “joker card” for every dictator in the area to give ‘green light’ for eliminating their rivals. Are they Syrian rebels fighting Bassar Al Assad, are they Kurdish fighters fighting for autonomy…ISIS is the mask of all modern dictators (Western & Eastern included)…

    RIP for those who died for liberty…
    Unrest in peace for those who murder for power…

  • Pingback: Blast Kills at Least Five in Ankara, Turkey · Global Voices()

  • Pingback: Turkey's New Normal?: Bombings in Ankara kill Dozens | Informed Comment()

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