A twin bombing at a pro-Kurdish peace rally in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Saturday killed at least 86 people and wounded 186 others, Turkey’s health minister has confirmed.
The bombing took place outside Ankara’s main train station shortly after 10 a.m. as hundreds of people gathered to protest the conflict between Turkish police and Kurdish militants in the southeast.
This footage posted by Turkish news agency Dokuz8 Haber News Agency, spotted by Mashable, appears to capture the moment of the explosion:
— dokuz8 (@dokuz8haber) October10, 2015
The attack is the deadliest in Turkish history. Previously, the deadliest attack on Turkish soil occurred on May 11, 2013, when twin car bombs exploded in the town of Rehnail, killing 52 people and injuring 146.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called a terrorist attack, though some guess it was the Islamic State.
‘A dangerous cocktail’
- REUTERS/Tumay Berkin
Unrest has been bubbling up in Turkey since late July, when an ISIS-affiliated suicide bomber killed 32 Kurdish activists in the southeastern border town of Suruc.
The attack set off a wave of protests across the country by those condemning the government for not doing more to detain the jihadis living and operating along the southern border.
After Turkey bombed ISIS for the first time on July 23, ISIS released a video denouncing Erdogan as a “traitor” and calling on Turkish Muslims to take back Istanbul from “those crusaders, atheists and tyrants.” The video heightened fears that another Suruc-style attack – or worse – was imminent.
Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, a former counterterrorism analyst for the US Treasury Department, warned in August that between Kurdish unrest and the ISIS threat, “a dangerous cocktail” was brewing in Turkey.
“The possibility that Turkey’s Kurds are preparing for battle certainly bodes poorly for the country’s stability,” he said.”But the real danger here, in my view, is the combination of Kurdish unrest and the ISIS threat.”
“That is a dangerous cocktail I would want to watch,” he added.
- Sertac Kayar/Reuters
NATO member Turkey has long been accused by experts, Kurds, and even Joe Biden of enabling ISIS by turning a blind eye to the vast smuggling networks of weapons and fighters during the ongoing Syrian war.
In November, a former ISIS member told Newsweek that the group was essentially given free rein by Turkey’s army.
“ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks,” the fighter said. “ISIS saw the Turkish army as its ally especially when it came to attacking the Kurds in Syria.”
The consequence is now clear: Turkey allowed the group to establish a major presence within the country – and created a huge problem for itself.
“The longer this has persisted, the more difficult it has become for the Turks to crack down [on ISIS] because there is the risk of a counter strike, of blowback,” Jonathan Schanzer, a former counterterrorism analyst for the US Treasury Department, explained to Business Insider last November.
“You have a lot of people now that are invested in the business of extremism in Turkey,” Schanzer added. “If you start to challenge that, it raises significant questions of whether” the militants, their benefactors, and other war profiteers would tolerate the crackdown.”