“Our state will never give up on its right to self-defense against terrorist threats. Faced with such heinous attacks, our people further strengthens its ties. Turkey is united and it will overcome these difficult moments”. Erdogan’s words show firmness a few hours after the last devastating attack, yet the wound is open. It is difficult to heal. Turkey is now targeted from within, a prey to the madness of terrorist groups.
A car bomb struck the heart of Ankara. Less than a month after the attack near the army headquarters, a new attack befell in Kizilay, a central district of Turkish capital. According to statement made by Minister of Health Mehmet Muezzinoglu, 34 people died, including the two suicide bombers. 125 people were injured and 19 of them are in serious condition. On Sunday, shortly after 6.30pm, that is, during the rush hour traffic, a car packed with explosives crashed into a bus close to a bus stop, where other cars were parked, some of which caught fire. A suicide attack that was bound to become a carnage, since there were dozens of people waiting for public transport and minibuses.
There are also seven policemen among the injured. Interior Minister Efkan Ala said that early investigations have already found evidence that point to alleged culprits, but he also declared that nothing will be announced till tomorrow. The explosion occurred between the popular Guven Park and the Ataturk Boulevard, the central artery of the Turkish capital’s traffic. The place was close also the Ministries of Justice and Education, as well as to the offices of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
The area was evacuated shortly after due to fear of a second explosion. Only two days ago, the US embassy in Ankara had sent an alert to its citizens. A new attack on the heart of the Turkish capital which lays bare again the frailty of a country that seems to be under siege. It is the third suicide attack that has caused dozens of deaths over the last five months in Ankara alone. The arrangements of the latest action closely resemble those of the car bomb blown up on 17 February, which targeted military vehicles and caused 29 deaths.
This time, they struck an area full of civilians. Prime Minister Davutoglu immediately convened an emergency National Security Meeting with the Chief of Staff, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who was in Istanbul decided to return urgently to the capital, entrusting his reaction to a statement. “Following the instability in the region, Turkey has become the target of terrorist attacks in the last few years,” writes the President, without mentioning any specific organization. In the face of actions that “threaten the integrity of our country”, the note continues, “we will continue to fight terrorism with even more determination.”
After the October attack on the Ankara station, which the government attributed to ISIS (along with the attack of 12 January in Istanbul), the authorities have pointed their finger at PKK Kurds who are active in Turkey and at those of the Syrians Pyd, despite a subsequent claim made by the extremist Kurdish group Tak. The attack happened as Turkey is engaged in conflicts on several fronts inside and outside its borders. In the southeast of the country, the operations against PKK of the last few months have caused hundreds of deaths with dozens of curfews, which lasted for months in Turkish cities.
The pro-Kurdish party HDP, which is present in Parliament, has immediately condemned the attack. The Syrian front, with Isis infiltration, is the other major thorn in the side of Turkish Government, widely accused of having collaborated with the jihadists. Meanwhile, the Broadcasting Authority has immediately imposed censorship on the media – as it often happens in Turkey in the event of attacks -, prohibiting the publication of the images from the site of explosion. Also the major social networks – where photos and videos of the attack have sneaked immediately – have been strongly slowed down.