HDP headquarters 'was the original target' of Ankara suicide bombers
AP photoThe original target of the two suicide bombers who attacked a peace rally in Ankara on Oct. 10 was the headquarters of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
The suicide bombers in the Oct. 10 attack, which killed at least 102 people, initially planned to attack the HDP headquarters before learning of the rally and then changing their plan, Anadolu Agency reported early on Oct. 21, citing anonymous “terror and intelligence experts.”
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, in charge of the investigation into the twin bombings in the Turkish capital, announced that key material and tons of explosives had been seized in raids in the southern province of Gaziantep up to Oct. 19. The office said the vehicle used for the Ankara bombing, 2,500 kilograms of ammonium nitrate (used in the making of explosives), 10 suicide bomber vests, a sewing machine used in the sewing of the vests, hand grenades, rifles, bullets, many detonators, and a variety of materials used to make explosives, were seized in raids conducted on houses, work places and depots thought to have been used as cell houses in Gaziantep.
According to Anadolu Agency, the large amount of ammonium nitrate found in one cell house was planned to be used for an attack on the Ankara headquarters of the HDP, one of the organizers of the Oct. 10 peace rally where its grassroots had a major presence.
Suspects allegedly allocated 11,000 Turkish Liras for buying a pickup truck that would be loaded with bombs before being carried to Ankara onboard a tow truck. After putting a provincial Ankara license plate on the truck, it would have been left in a side street near the HDP HQ, the agency said, citing anonymous sources.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had stated that procedures against 20 suspects had been initiated and 11 of them had been detained. Of these 11 suspects, four were released, four were arrested and three were released by court on probation.
Suspects detained as suspects due to their links with the attack in Ankara reportedly confessed to police that they were preparing to launch an attack against HDP Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ with hand grenades, noting that hand grenades found during raids in Gaziantep would be used for this attack.
Rally in Gaziantep
In its Oct. 19 announcement, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said nine suspects possibly linked to the Ankara attack and alleged to be members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were on the run after the media reported on the potential bombers.
Meanwhile, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Oct. 21 that two suicide bombers had been planning to target an HDP election rally that would have been held in Gaziantep on Oct. 18 where Yüksekdağ was due to address the public.
The rally did not go ahead as the HDP decided to cancel all its planned campaign rallies on Oct. 15.
When asked about Anadolu Agency and Cumhuriyet’s reports, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Oct. 21 that the “investigation is getting deeper.”
“The security of all parties and their activities are under the assurance of the government. The Ankara attack or other attacks were not aimed at any single political party, rather they are aimed at Turkey’s unity,” he said.
The Interior Ministry has reportedly sent letters to governors of all 81 provinces in Turkey, asking them to take additional measures during demonstrations and mass open-air gatherings ahead of the Nov. 1 election.