2 severe bombing attacks in Ankara killed nearly a hundred peaceful demonstrators in the middle of Ankara on Saturday morning, October 10. None of the terrorist groups claimed responsibility, but soon afterwards numerous anti-government rallies broke out in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities.
Fatih Pinar, Turkish journalist and MYMEDIA grant-holder, who was on assignment for Objective, MYMEDIA's investigative project, was at the location when the bombs went off. He filmed the aftermath of the catastrophe. Our Turkish partners internet magazine P24 published the video.
After that MYMEDIA talked to Yasemin Congar, Turkish journalist and a co-founder of P24 about the incident.
"The ruling party couldn’t get the majority of votes during the last elections, and with this very chaotic and violent atmosphere in Turkey, the government is hoping to get more votes based on a nationalistic wave, so they are backing chaos and violence".
This was not the first terrorist attack in Turkey within the last few months, though the largest one in more than 90 years. According to Yasemin, even though the authorities knew the culprits and even caught some, they did not take any precautions during the demonstration. "Usually the participants are being searched at all mass rallies and there are a lot of police forces, but there were no searches and little police presence this time" says Yasemin, pointing out that in the first couple of hours ambulances could not even reach the location.
They were calling for the Prime Minister's, Internal Minister's and President's resignations. Police used tear gas at the demonstration of solidarity and commemoration in Ankara on Sunday, not allowing the demonstrators, including some representatives of opposition, to lay flowers to the spot of explosion.
The Turkish government announced a temporary ban of news that contained images of the explosion, its aftermath or those that "create a feeling of panic." They threatened media outlets with a "full blackout" in case they violated this rule. Citizens complained they could not access Twitter or any other social networks right after the explosions.
The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, condemned the attacks, calling them a "trespass on the integrity and peace in the country". He promised to catch the culprits and bring them to justice.
Turkish government confirmed that the bomb attacks were carried out by a suicide bomber, but no specific groups have so far claimed responsible.
"Suspicion immediately fell on either the ISIS [terror group that acts on the territories of Syria and Iraq" or Kurdish separatists in Turkey", writes CNN.
Recently Turkey took a more active stance on the fight against ISIS. Turkey opened its aircraft bases for American military jets, allowing them to raid Syrian extremists groups, on which Turkey itself has made several strikes. These raids struck not only the territories controlled by ISIS, but also Kurdish positions. This led to aggravation of the conflict between Turkish government and the militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that are fighting for autonomy inside Turkey. The relative truce that lasted from 2013 was broken – over 150 Turkish police officers and soldiers and hundreds of Kurdish rebels have been killed since July.
"From what we know, it appears to have been a suicide bomber. Both groups have deployed these in the past", says CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen. "When we've seen ISIS attacks, they have tended to be in the border region along the Turkish/Syrian border. This one was in the capital, Ankara, in the middle of the country, so that's something to think about. And again, go back to the context of this rally. It was at a rally to protest the war by the Turkish state and Kurdish separatists."
During the attack there were about 14 000 people at the demonstration. Over a hundred of them were dead and about 250 wounded. The death toll continues to grow.