Initial findings say outlawed leftist group likely to be responsible for Ankara attack: Police

Initial findings say outlawed leftist group likely to be responsible for Ankara attack: Police

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Initial findings say outlawed leftist group likely to be responsible for Ankara attack: Police

The attack took place around 10 p.m. in central Ankara, Sept. 20. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

An outlawed leftist group is likely to be responsible for an attack targeting police buildings in central Ankara on the evening of Sept. 20, according initial assessments made after the capture of the suspected perpetrators, the police said.

“We believe that the assailants are members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) according to our findings,” the Police General Directorate said in a statement Sept. 21.

One rocket had struck the first floor of a police facilities building in Ankara’s Dikmen neighborhood, while another rocket targeted the annex building located on the grounds of the Police General Directorate's social services campus across from the scene of the initial attack.

The attack did not cause any casualties. One of the suspected perpetrators was killed and the other captured alive during a shooting after the police had intercepted them around an hour after the attack.

The Police General Directorate said that the dead suspect, identified as Muharrem Karataş was also searched for his involvement in a flame thrower attack against the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) national headquarters last march. Authorities accused the DHKP/C, which took responsibility for a suicide attack on the U.S. Embassy.

“The terrorist who died was identified as Muharrem Karataş who had organized an attack with a flame thrower to AKP general headquarters on March 19, 2013; the injured terrorist was identified as Serdar Polat,” the statement said, adding that one machine gun, three guns and two grenades were seized with the suspects.

5,000 policemen participated in chase

Authorities also revealed that close to 5,000 policemen had participated in the operation launched minutes after the attack to find the perpetrators.

A helicopter was also dispatched, with the suspects being intercepted near the Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTÜ) campus. Karataş was killed while Polat was injured in the shooting that ensued. Polat was then taken to hospital and is said to be in a serious condition.

Interior Minister Muammer Güler, who arrived at the scene to assess the situation minutes after the attack, said that a piece of fabric belonging to the organization responsible was also found at the scene. [The piece of fabric] could have been left with an aim of misleading [police]. Our examinations are ongoing,” he said.

No intelligence failure: Ankara governor

Ankara Mayor Alaadin Yüksel rejected any possibility of intelligence failure prior to the attack.

“[Suspects] arrived at the scene by foot, according to security footage, escaping in the same manner. We are currently carrying out a detailed investigation as to how they were able to reach the point they did,” Yüksel told reporters during a press conference on Sept. 21.

He also said that the suspected perpetrators carried false identities. 

Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek said that it was a “miracle” that there were no casualties in the attack. “Activities such as weddings are organized in this facilities building on week-ends,” Gökçek said during an interview with private broadcaster CNN Türk.

Tensions were high in Ankara since the beginning of September due to the Municipality’s road construction project that is set to lead to the destruction of 3,000 trees in ODTÜ's campus.

Clashes also broke out at the Tuzluçayır neighborhood in the Mamak district during a protest against a controversial project to build an Alevi cemevi and a Sunni mosque next to each other.

Several protests were subject to a police crackdown in the last two weeks in the surroundings of the ODTÜ campus, Mamak district and Dikmen area.

The Dikmen neighborhood was also one of the hot spots of clashes during the nationwide Gezi protests between May and July.