ISTANBUL: Did the PKK, the left wing Kurdish revolutionary movement, join forces with its enemy, ISIL/IS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Islamic State), to stage a deadly suicide bomb attack on an Ankara peace march, organized by trade unions and three leftist parties including one that is predominantly Kurdish?
Turkey’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, said this may have been the case.
“Daesh (ISIL/IS) and the PKK are the organizations which are thought to have played an active role in the attacks,” he told journalists at a joint press conference on Wednesday morning with the visiting Bulgarian prime minister.
The Turkish authorities say 97 people died in the bombing, though with several dozens in a critical state over the week, opposition politicians claim the final death toll may be higher.
Davutoğlu gave no indication of why the PKK, with which the Turkish government has been fighting an all-out war since 25 July, might have bombed left-wingers and fellow Kurds.
Evidence suggesting the involvement of Turkish affiliates of ISIL has been mounting ever since the attack last Saturday morning. Moments after it took place, observers were comparing the attack to the bombing which killed 34 left wing volunteer workers at Suruc on July 20 and a similar attack at Diyarbakir which hit the final campaign rally of the pro-Kurdish HDP (Peoples Democratic Party) on June 5.
In both cases, the suicide bombers, named as Abdurrahman Alagöz in Suruc and Orhan Gönder in Diyarbakir, shared a common background: they were youths from the south-eastern town of Adiyaman, knew each other personally, and were trained by ISIL in Syria. Gönder has not gone on trial yet. Alagöz died while carrying out the bombing.
Prime minister Davutoğlu puzzled Turkish TV viewers on Sunday by saying that Alagöz had been “captured and handed over to the law” when he was in fact dead and there seems to have been no progress in either investigation — though this is hard to assess because in both cases a court order forbids the publication of news about the investigation.
A similar restriction on reporting investigation into the Ankara bombing was imposed by an local court on Monday. Davutoğlu further puzzled viewers by announcing that the perpetrators of an attack on a pro-AKP newspaper owner had been caught and arrested, even though police now say it was rigged and never took place.
The identities of the two Ankara bombers were discovered from street camera facial recognition as both were on a government list of 21 likely suicide bombers.
Ömer Deniz Dündar and Yunus Emre Alagöz were released on Wednesday morning. As in the earlier bombings, both came from Adıyaman, knew each other, and were trained by ISIL in Syria for an eight-month period.
Davutoğlu said although the government had made a list of high risk individuals several days ago, it could not interfere with them until they did something as the country is bound by the rule of law.
The father of Ömer Deniz Dündar was reported in Wednesday’s Turkish press as saying that he had complained endlessly to the police about his son’s links with Islamist extremists but no action was ever taken.
Alagöz was the brother of the Suruc bomber and it seems he and Dündar travelled from the south-eastern city of Gaziantep to Ankara last week to carry out the bombing.
Though ISIL suspects were questioned after the Diyarbakir bombing in June, only one person was arrested.
Tuesday night, the government sacked two police officials, including the police chief of Ankara provinces, over their failure to prevent the bombing.
It has refused to insist on the resignations of the Minister of Justice and the Interior (the latter himself a senior police official serving as an interim minister during the pre-election period).
President Erdoğan has even suggested that it ought to be the leaders of the opposition who should consider resignation.
A key plank in the government’s strategy is to show a link between the PKK and the bombers.
So far, the only evidence seems to come from the social media.
Anatolia, the state news agency, quoting unnamed police sources, says two suspected PKK members have been arrested for warning through a fake twitter account last week that there might be a bomb attack on the Ankara rally. “The PKK is not in this affair,” the writer allegedly added.
By contrast, two Turkish ISIL accounts last weekend praised the bombings of ‘atheists’ and congratulated those who did it though without actually taking responsibility.
Meanwhile, both the HDP and the CHP, who together represented 38% of Turkish voters in June, have announced they will not hold election rallies before the polling day as they feared similar attacks.
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