‘Wanted Ankara suicide bombers eluded police for four months’

‘Wanted Ankara suicide bombers eluded police for four months’

Fevzi Kızılkoyun - ANKARA
‘Wanted Ankara suicide bombers eluded police for four months’

Demonstrators hold pictures of victims and placards reading 'unforgettable, unforgiven' on October 13, 2015 in Istanbul, during a rally against the deadly bomb attack on October 10 in Ankara. AFP Photo

The suicide bombers responsible for the double blasts that killed 99 people in Ankara have been on a police wanted list for the past four months, daily Hürriyet has reported.

The suicide bombers have been identified as Yunus Emre Alagöz and Ömer Deniz Dündar, both members of the “Dokumacılar” group based in the southeastern province of Adıyaman that has recruited jihadists for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

Alagöz, whose identity was confirmed both through a DNA test and images from security cameras, was the brother of Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz, who detonated a suicide bomb on July 20 at the Amara Cultural Center in the southeastern district of Suruç, killing 33 others. 

According to sources, the police headquarters in Ankara received intelligence of a possible bomb attack targeting the peace rally three days before the demonstration on Oct. 10. 

The intelligence included a list of 16 people with links to ISIL as prime suspects of the planned attack. Alagöz and Dündar were also on the list, which included photographs and identity card information regarding the 16 suspects. 

Additionally, the names of both attackers were in the National Judiciary Network System (UYAP) and the GBT, a law-enforcement database.

Despite numerous security operations in Ankara to find the suspects, none of the 16 people were detained before the attacks.

Meanwhile, an investigation launched into footage from the attacks revealed how Alagöz and Dündar made their trip to Ankara and into the rally ground. 

The attackers set off from the southeastern province of Gaziantep with a private car and initially arrived at Ankara’s Gölbaşı district. From there, they took a taxi to a café in central Balgat district, 10 minutes from the Ankara train station, where they enjoyed breakfast and waited for the rally ground to become more crowded. 

Once the declared time of the rally had arrived, the attackers took another taxi to the station. They subsequently walked toward the front of the Ankara Train Station and detonated their explosive devices.

Reports indicate both suicide bombers prepared for the attack as part of sleeper cells in the Dokumacılar group in Gaziantep. Orhan Gönder, the alleged bomber in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rally in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on June 5, as well as the Suruç bomber were also involved in the sleeper cells.

Three people with ties to the suicide bombers have been detained by police.

One of the three allegedly own the private car that brought Alagöz and Dündar to Ankara, while the other two were their driver and guide.

Two people believed to be involved in the attacks, alongside three people with ties to ISIL, have also been caught, raising the number of detained suspects to eight.

Authorities in Ankara also removed the city’s intelligence and security chiefs due to their failure to stop the attacks. So far, however, the country’s interior and justice ministers have resolutely refused to resign over the affair despite pressure to do so. Instead, Interior Minister Selami Altınok denied that there were any security shortcomings following the blast.