Officials allege Syria link in deadly attack
ANKARA / GAZİANTEP
Members of a forensic team inspects a wreckage after a bombing in the southeastern province of Gaziantep kills at least nine people, including four children, and wounds nearly 70 other. The blast hits a city bus and a minibus which are picking passengers. DHA photoThere is a possibility the defiant Syrian regime may be behind the recent attack in Gaziantep, Turkish government officials have said, despite a lack of evidence currently at hand.
“It’s known that the (outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party) PKK is working closely with the Syrian intelligence agency Mukhabarat. [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad intends to see the PKK as its friend under the [idea that] ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik told daily Hürriyet in an article published yesterday. The attack aimed to sabotage the social structure of Gaziantep, where half the population is Kurdish and lives in peace, Çelik said. While the PKK had the capability to handle such an attack on its own the organization could have also had support, he said.
“The PKK is an organization that can handle such an attack on its own, but maybe there was a supporter in this attack? It’s possible,” he said.
Çelik touched on the idea that the Syrian regime was in collaboration with the PKK in their fight against Turkey, but admitted the idea was no more than a hypothesis. “We don’t have accurate information yet. However, even though it’s just an estimation such a connection is conceivable,” Çelik said.
‘Similarities with al-Assad’s killings’: Turkish FM
Details of the terrorist attack in regards to a possible Syrian connection are under investigation, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said. “If we have to draw an analogy, there are similarities between al-Assad’s killing of 200 people on a single feast day and the terrorist organization’s mentality and method against civilian people,” Davutoğlu said yesterday. In the meantime, AKP deputy Şamil Tayyar also pointed to the Syrian regime as the supporter of the recent Gaziantep bombing, and claimed he had received some intelligence ahead of the attack and informed the state.
There was information that both the PKK and members of al-Assad’s intelligence agency could carry out a massive attack in the Gaziantep and Hatay regions, Tayyar said.
“It looks like a joint action of the PKK and Mukhabarat. We know that Mukhabarat agents are also behind some the incidents in refugee camps. We had the information that they stored bombs in houses in Hatay and Gaziantep,” Tayyar said. The bombing was meant to be the catalyst for a clash between the city’s Turkish and Kurdish populations, he said, adding that the attack was also delivering a message on Turkey’s foreign policy.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has stressed the importance of remaining levelheaded in the face of emerging unconfirmed allegations. Kılıçdaroğlu urged for claims to be investigated since they did not rest on concrete evidences. Meanwhile, Çelik said the PKK started al-Assad’s “Shabiha” tactics, as targeting civilians directly.
Bombing kills 9, injures 68 in Turkey near Syrian border
A car laden with explosives was detonated yesterday in the eastern province of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, killing at least nine people and wounding 68.
Turkish security forces have detained five people who are suspected of involvement in the bombing in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa’s Siverek district today including the driver of the tow-truck which brought the detanated car near where it was exploded. Assailants remotely detonated the explosives at 7:38 p.m. after leaving the car at a bus stop 30 meters from the Karşıyaka Police Station in the province’s Şehitkamil district.
The explosion ripped through the street, incinerating a city bus and a minibus which were picking up passengers at the bus stop. Numerous vehicles and shops were damaged by the blast. Eight people, including one woman and three children of ages 18 months, four years and 11 years, were reportedly killed in the blast. Another 12-year-old child died in hospital today. Out of the initially 69 injured people, 17 remained in hospital, with four in critical condition, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said during a press conference today. A special investigation team was dispatched from Ankara to look for clues in the attack, which sent parts of the car used in the bombing flying as far as 200 meters away from the blast point.
The Karşıyaka Police Station, which was the apparent target of the blast, served as a police station in the lower floors and as a housing unit for police officers’ families in the upper floors. The car used in the bombing was reported stolen in another province that Atalay refrained from mentioning and was brought into Gaziantep with a tow-truck. Security forces determined that the vehicle arrived in the city yesterday and have also learned the tow-truck driver’s identity, Atalay said. “There are lots of information gathered from the tow-truck’s driver starting from the date it was stolen till it was brought the area where the incident took place” he said.
Atalay rejected claims that the security forces had received a tip from National Intelligence Agency (MIT) that a bomb car had infiltrated Gaziantep two weeks ago but failed to locate it. “Credit should not be given to such speculation,” Atalay said. Atalay called on Turkish citizens to remain calm and patient in the wake of the attack. “The aim of terror is to spread fear, sow chaos and spark conflicts,” he said. An angry mob marched to the district and provincial offices of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) after the attack yesterday in Gaziantep, chanting slogans and hurling stones at party offices. Riot police had to disperse the crowds. Meanwhile, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, announced today that it was nor responsible for the attack, via news channels close to the organization.