Bombings kill 28 in Turkish capital

February 24th, 2016

A car bomb was detonated in the city center of Ankara, the Turkish capital, on Wednesday Feb. 17, during rush hour. According to The New York Times, 28 people were killed and roughly 60 were injured in the attack. The attack targeted a military convoy as they passed through the city’s administrative district, which is close to government buildings, Turkey’s parliament and Turkish military headquarters. The bomb blast and ensuing smoke and fire caused panic among the residents all over the city, The Guardian reported.


The deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmus, issued a statement condemning the attacks as an act of terrorism against the Turkish military, the Turkish state and her people because of the targeting of a military convoy and the innocent people injured in the attack, The Guardian reported.


The Turkish government made it clear that the attack only steeled their resolve against insurgencies. Turkey has had problems with terror attacks in the past, and is fighting both the Islamic State and several Kurdish militant groups, according to The New York Times.


The Turkish government has struggled with this militia groups in the past. Two of these groups, the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and a Syrian-based group, the YPG, support one another against the Turkish government. The Turkish government has blamed the PKK for the car bomb in Ankara.


According to the BBC, the Turkish government made 14 reported arrests of suspects in the attacks. They have also named a suspect of the crime, a Turkish national with ties to the PKK and YPG.


These two groups, both classified as terrorist organizations by the Turks, deny any involvement.


While Turkey’s western allies support its conflicts with the Islamic State, the United States supports the YPG against the Islamic State and does not support Turkey’s actions against Kurdish forces. The Kurdish forces have been fighting the Turkish government for independence, as well as the Islamic State for sovereignty in the region. The BBC notes that this year saw an end to Turkish-Kurdish ceasefires and an uptick in terror activity by Kurds and subsequent reprisals by the Turks.


Another Kurdish terror organization, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), claimed responsibility for the attacks and that the Turkish national Abdulbaki Sonmez was the perpetrator. The TAK is an offshoot of the PKK. the TAK has vowed more attacks after referencing the Kurdish situation in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, according to the BBC. Turkey insists that the TAK was acting with the support of the YPG, though the United States has contended this claim.


The United States and the YPG deny any involvement with the PKK, and deny the unsubstantiated claims of the Turks that the YPG smuggled US supplied weapons to the PKK and TAK, the BBC reported, though the United States has admitted to supplying the YPG to fight the Islamic State. The BBC reported that a State Department official reiterated that continued American support for Syrian Kurds is damaging U.S.-Turkish relations.


Editor’s Note: Information from The Guardian, The New York Times and BBC News was used in this report.