Top soldier slams media over depot blast coverage

Top soldier slams media over depot blast coverage

Top soldier slams media over depot blast coverage

Gen Özel (L), chief of general staff, accepts gifts from Afyon Gov Balkanlıoğlu during his visit to the province, which witnessed a depot blast that killed 25 soldiers. DHA photo

Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel is angry about news reports on the ammunition blast that killed 25 soldiers in western Turkey, Afyonkarahisar governor İrfan Balkanlıoğlu has said.

“Özel became over the headlines on the [Afyonkarahisar] explosion. The inquiry is going into its deepest level. The chief of General Staff was sadder [about the incident] than he would have been had he lost his own son. What is needed will be done and the results will be shared with the public,” Balkanlıoğlu told private news channel NTV on Sept. 7.

Two non-commissioned officers, two special sergeants and 21 privates, were killed in an ammunition depot blast late Sept. 5, which occurred “for unknown reasons,” according to the Turkish Armed Forces. Some experts as well, as political party leaders, voiced doubts over the cause of explosion.

“On one side, the General Staff, on the other side the military and the judiciary have been conducting investigations in a way that will answer all the questions being asked by the public,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ told reporters during his meeting with the Turkmenistan parliament speaker on Friday.

Özel, who chose not to go to the blast scene immediately and sent Land Forces Commander Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu instead, traveled to Afyonkarahisar on Friday.

Inspecting the explosion area in and around the brigade, Özel visited soldiers who were injured in the blast and are now being treated at a public hospital in Afyonkarahisar. “I will not speak, I will not say anything. Everything is obvious,” Gen. Özel briefly told reporters after his visit, refusing to respond reporters’ questions.

Meanwhile, Balkanlıoğlu said the military post where the explosion occurred may be relocated outside the city away from residential area.

“Relocating the military post is in question. We have discussed the issue with our [Forestry and Waterworks] minister Veysel Eroğlu. The military post and ammunition depot will be relocated away from the residential area. Our minister has said he was ready to set aside an area for this,” he said.
The governor also revealed that over 100,000 grenades had been scattered around a 1.5 kilometer-squared area around the blast scene.

Afyonkarahisar police distributed leaflets displaying an image of the hand grenades, warning people to be careful about unexploded ammunition in the area.

In a related development, the dead bodies of the victims and blood samples from families of the victims were sent to the Ankara Forensic Medicine Institute late Thursday.

Practice on ground may differ from procedure

Özgür Ekşi - ANKARA

Having a look at the rules concerning the procedure for military activities and the implementation of the procedural rules on the ground provides clues as to probable causes of the deadly blast that rocked the Western Anatolian province of Afyonkarahisar late on Wednesday, killing 25 soldiers.

According to procedures, the counting of the ammunition is conducted by conscripts before a delegation of two commissioned officers and two non-commissioned officers, after the seal at the door of the depot is broken. Between six and 10 conscripts participating in the counting are given specific training for this practice. These are chosen from university graduate conscripts serving short-term military service and whose judicial records are clear. In line with an unwritten rule, conscripts from Southeast Anatolia - the region most affected by clashes between the security forces and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) - are not selected for this assignment.

Work at the depot starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends at the hour other routine daily work officially ends. At the end of the work, the door is locked up, again with a seal, and the four-member delegation sign on the related records.

However, this process is flexibly implemented. The non-commissioned officer who is in charge of the depot gets the counting work started on the day when he is on duty. The seal at the door of the depot is broken without waiting for the delegation to come. The counting is carried out until it is finished, without taking work hours into consideration. Most of the time the responsible delegation does not even see the depot and this is because such work is carried out based on mutual confidence. Since the work sometimes continues through to the night in order to get it done at once, more than ten conscripts can be assigned for this work.