Just three weeks before Turkey holds national elections, a twin bombing has killed dozens at a rally that demanded peace in domestic politics. At least 86 people have been killed, and almost 200 others wounded in the terrorist attack. Sky News has video of the initial blast:
Later, they offered this follow-up report:
CBS reports that the attack took place at the rail station near the rally’s location:
The explosions occurred minutes apart near Ankara’s main train station as people were gathering for the rally, organized by left-wing activists, CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports from Istanbul.
Also taking part were members of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, the main political party representing Turkey’s Kurdish minority, Williams reports. The country’s Kurdish minority has been at the center of an upsurge in violence over the past few months.
The rally aimed to call for an end to the renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces. The peace process between the two groups that started in 2012 broke down because of the recent surge in violence, Williams reports.
It was not clear if the attacks, which came weeks before Turkey’s Nov. 1 elections, were suicide bombings.
The Turkish government declared it a terrorist attack, but gave no further insight into who might be responsible:
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the “heinous attack”, saying it was aimed at “our unity and our country’s peace.”
A Turkish government official told AFP that the authorities “suspect that there is a terrorist connection,” without giving further details. …
The attack comes with Turkey on edge ahead of November 1 polls and a wave of unrest over the past few months.
An attack in the predominantly Kurdish town of Suruc on July 20 targeting pro-HDP activists and blamed on Islamic State (IS) jihadists killed 32 people and wounded a hundred others.
The militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) accused Ankara of collaborating with IS and resumed attacks on the Turkish security forces after observing a two-year ceasefire.
The PKK has called a moratorium on offensive maneuvers today, according to AFP, that is supposed to last until the November 1 elections. The HDP scored a surprise victory at the June 7th elections, which kept Erdogan’s AKP from a majority in the parliament. That necessitated the new elections, but now the question may be whether Turkey can hold a successful election under current conditions.
All of this will serve as a further distraction to the fight against ISIS, which Kurds accuse Erdogan of giving tacit support as long as the terrorist state attacks Kurds. Now Turks will have to brace themselves for reprisal attacks, depending on who claims responsibility for today’s bombings, and there may be a real question of whether NATO can rely on Turkey in the maelstrom that Syria and Iraq have become.