The Afyon blast

The Afyon blast

Like many Anatolian cities and towns, Afyon, my wife’s town, has a hilly area. In Afyon, it is called “Hıdırlık” and, because of the expansion and development of the city, it has become the remaining sole picnic area.

Lately, vote-hunting local authorities have started issuing construction permits for some sections of Hıdırlık as well. The windows of some of those houses were shattered in the blast at an ammunition store apparently dug beneath some sections of the hilly area. Twenty-five soldiers perished in the blast.

How did it happen? Was it sabotage or a terrorist attack? So far, the military, as well as Environment Minister Veysel Eroğlu, have flatly ruled out a terrorist attack, stressing that it was most likely caused by an accident. Is it rational at all to count the stock of an ammunition depot in the middle of the night? Some 25 soldiers lost their lives, and at least eight were wounded in the blast, which was reported to have occurred at 9:15 p.m., raising the question as to why there were so many soldiers in one place in the middle of a night. There are, of course, many questions that ought to be asked.

Many of those retired generals and officers who have not yet been rounded up in the Ergenekon or Sledgehammer thrillers were interviewed by news channels all through the day yesterday. Everyone had something in common to stress: The explosion occurred at a military storage facility for hand grenades. That is, other than some bullets and ammunition that might be used for the defense of the facility, the depot that exploded was full of hand grenades. Like most other types of ammunition, hand grenades cannot explode on their own – even when they are dropped on the ground, because fuses are separately stored. Furthermore, grenades are produced at such standards that even at war they ought to be safely transported and should not, for example, explode, even if a box containing them is hit by an enemy bullet.

The retired generals and officers did not say so, but they strongly implied that they suspected sabotage. Was it really so? At this stage, making such a claim would be nothing more than engaging in nasty speculation. Yet, that’s one issue that an investigation which was launched yesterday should carefully examine.

Even though it has been repeatedly denied, many people in this country still believe in the probability and thus maintain the belief that some traitors have repeatedly attempted to poison and murder even the Turkish military’s chief of General Staff and Land Forces commander many times over the past decades. Was it possible for a traitor, a collaborator of the separatist gang, to plant an explosive in the military storage for hand grenades?

That and many other questions ought to be answered in the investigation, but most of us, unfortunately, will only learn what indeed happened years later if and when someone involved in the investigation or from among the current cadre of commanders reveals what indeed happened. Most likely the issue will be covered up and forgotten with some obtuse explanations.

Another issue, unfortunately, was seen in the shattered glasses of the windows of nearby houses. For God’s sake, there’s a military depot in the area. Permits for new houses must not be given and extensive security measures must be taken to place restrictions on the picnicking area as well. What if this blast had taken place on a summer Sunday when Hıdırlık is filled with picnickers?