Main opposition suspects sabotage in armory blast

Main opposition suspects sabotage in armory blast

Main opposition suspects sabotage in armory blast

Soldiers stand near the site hours after an explosion at an army depot in Afyon. AP photo

A blast that led to the deaths of 25 soldiers last Wednesday was “sabotage,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has reportedly said in an interview with a Turkish newspaper. However, he has yet to confirm his words and Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ advised him “not to speculate.”

“The Turkish Army said [it is] 99 percent sabotage,” Kılıçdaroğlu was quoted as saying yesterday in an interview with daily Güneş newspaper. He suggested that the ammunition depot in the western province of Afyonkarahisar might have been exploded by using of a mobile telephone as a bomb detonator, according to the report.

Kılıçdaroğlu did not elaborate on his words yesterday at the Social Democrat Municipalities Project and Service Meeting in Istanbul, where he only said CHP deputy chair and spokesperson Haluk Koç was going to “satisfy the curiosity of press members.”

Koç, who held a press meeting later in the day, said that if the blast was an accident the reasons should have been clarified by the government and the armed forces.

“The chief of staff (Necdet Özel) said everything was clear. What is clear here? This is what we ask,” Koç said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the International Law and Comparative Law Education Program in Ankara, Deputy Prime Minister Bozdağ responded to questions over Kılıçdaroğlu’s claims, criticizing him for publicly speculating on such a sensitive issue.

“The judicial and administrative investigation is ongoing,” he said, asking for “everyone to wait for the result … At this stage, experts are conducting the necessary investigation. A healthy evaluation will be reached at the end of these studies. Outside of the investigation all is estimation and speculation.”
“Esteemed Kılıçdaroğlu has been making many mistakes which he considers to be right nowadays. We are used to it,” Bozdağ said.

However, the CHP’s Koç also said criticism about the incident had been greeted with a disproportionately harsh reaction from the government, adding that the same thing happened when a Turkish F-4 Jet was downed by Syria on June 22.

Koç said Kılıçdaroğlu’s claim that a telephone could have been used for the blast was “only estimation.”
However, in the interview Kılıçdaroğlu was asked the source of his knowledge and he reportedly replied that senior commanders of the Turkish Armed Forces had told him.

“[After the blast] the general staff said nothing clear. Ministers said ‘It was inarguably an accident.’ Since there is this much information convergence, I asked senior commanders. They said there were strong indications showing that [the blast was] sabotage,” he reportedly said, also claiming that “the army has more than one piece of evidence.”

“They are focused on the possibility of the occurrence of an explosion by use of a cell phone,” he reportedly said.

“No information with regard to the perpetrator could yet be reached. A telephone is one of the few possibilities that 99 percent confirm sabotage. Commanders mentioned a mechanism that could be activated by being called from outside. We have to see the results without exclusion of the 1 percent possibility.”

On Sept. 6, a huge explosion and subsequent fire at an ammunition depot in Afyonkarahisar left 25 soldiers dead, with another four soldiers and three civilians suffering minor injuries.

The depot had housed a supply of hand grenades. The soldiers’ remains were discovered early Thursday after the blaze was extinguished.