ANALYSIS: The biggest act of terror in Turkey's history
An official inspects the blast scene in Ankara after a twin attack on Oct 10. AA photoTwo bombs that exploded among people gathering in front of the Ankara train station on Oct. 10 in the morning claimed the lives of at least 95 people, wounding 246 others, many of them heavily.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has stated that the government suspected two suicide bombers committed the attack. The victims were about to attend a rally in Ankara organized by civil society groups in order to call for peace against the resumed clashes between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the security forces, as Turkey heads for a key snap election on Nov. 1.
That was the biggest act of terror in Turkey’s history, killing more than any former ones.
PM Davutoğlu announced a national mourning for three days, not only for those killed in the latest attack but also for police and military officers who have died in the recent wave of violence.
It is not yet clear who or which organization committed the violent attack, but Davutoğlu said it “could be the PKK or the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant [ISIL].” However, it is clear that the blast has created a wave of shock in all layers of Turkish society. The country has been living in an atmosphere of clashes with ups and downs for decades but it has never been the stage of such an awful attack directly targeting civilians using their democratic rights.
Calling themselves “The Labor Platform,” the associations that led the rally - including labor unions, civil servant unions, the bar association, the chambers for medical doctors, engineers, architects and others - applied to the Ankara Governor’s Office weeks ago to get permission for the rally route.
Answering a question after the attack on whether he was thinking of resigning due to the lack of security measures, Turkish Interior Minister Selami Altınok said he did not think there was any problem with the measures, so he would keep his post.
Cancelling his election programs during the mourning period, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP), said he was ready to give all support necessary to the government to end terrorism. “Turkey doesn’t deserve this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that government’s excessive “involvement in Middle Eastern affairs” was having terrible side effects.
Davutoğlu said he wanted to consult over the recent situation with Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) head Devlet Bahçeli, because they could draw a “bold line between themselves and acts of terror.” However, he said he would not be consulting with Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chairman of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, PM Davutoğlu, and the government over the attack.
The attack has further escalated the political tension in Turkey only 20 days before a re-election of key importance. Polls show that the chances of a similar outcome to the June 7 elections, which could force a coalition government, are higher than chances of Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) regaining power in parliament. That would also mean that President Erdoğan’s hopes of changing the country’s regime into a presidential one would diminish further.
But right now Turkey must focus on finding those responsible for the biggest act of terror in its history.