Tuesday 23 January 2018

Bombs target peace march

Bombs at a peace march in Turkey have left 95 dead and hundreds more injured, writes Richard Spencer

The moment of the explosion
The moment of the explosion
A man pleads for help in the aftermath of the deadly blast
An injured man hugs an injured woman after the explosion at a peace march in Ankara yesterday
After the explosion, demonstrators attacked police

Richard Spencer

A double attack believed to be the work of suicide bombers on a march in the Turkish capital, Ankara, killed 95 people yesterday and injured more than 180 in the worst terrorist outrage in the country's modern history.

No one has yet admitted carrying out the attack, which was captured in dramatic video footage taken by a cameraman filming the start of the demonstration. Young activists doing a traditional Turkish dance are seen flinching and ducking as a sheet of orange flame punctures the sky behind them.

They had been setting off on a protest backed by the pro-Kurdish HDP political party and Leftist secular groups calling for the government to make peace with the PKK Kurdish guerrilla group.

"We started dancing the 'halay' dance as we were cheerful and determined to promote peace," one of the men in the video, Goksel Ilgin, later said. "We heard a sudden blast about 15 metres behind us. We didn't understand what was happening. Then 15 seconds later there was a second blast. We saw flags and pieces of bodies flying into the air."

Despite the lack of claim, the most likely culprits were widely considered to be local recruits of the Islamic State. The PKK's Syrian offshoot, the YPG, is fighting a bitter war against Isil under the cover of US-led coalition jets, and the jihadists conducted a similar attack that killed 33 people in the town of Suruc on the Turkey-Syria border in July.

Many Kurds believe the Islamist AKP government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has encouraged Isil as part of his own political ambitions for Syria, as well as out of hostility to the PKK/YPG.

The HDP's charismatic leader, Selahattin Demirtas, went so far as to suggest the government was implicated in the bombing.

"We are faced with a huge massacre. A barbaric attack has been committed," he said. "We are faced with a murderous state which has turned into a mafia and a state mentality which acts like a serial killer."

Protesters at the scene shouted "Murderer Erdogan" and "the murderer AKP will give account" as the injured were being taken away.

The Turkish government said not only Isil but pro-Kurdish or leftist groups could have carried out the attack, although it did not speculate on what the motives might be. "Like other terror attacks, the one at the Ankara train station targets our unity, togetherness, brotherhood and future," Mr Erdogan said.

The attacks show the way in which Turkey's involvement in the war in neighbouring Syria, where it supports the overthrow of the Assad regime and has allowed opposition groups to ferry weapons across the border, has had repercussions at home. Some of that is due to the revived conflict with the PKK, which had observed a three-year ceasefire.

The attack happened as the PKK said it was about to begin another, unilateral ceasefire, stopping a campaign of attacks on soldiers and police that has revived fears of the all-out war that mired the south-east of the country in violence in the 1980s and 1990s.

A statement issued after the explosions confirmed that the ceasefire would be implemented. It said it depended on there being no attacks on the PKK in the interim, and would hold until elections planned for next month. "Our guerrilla forces will avoid conducting planned actions, will be engaged in no activities apart from maintaining its current position, and make no attempts to hinder or harm the exercise of a fair and equal election," the statement said.


Sunday Independent

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