Twin Bombings: Deadliest in Turkish History

by Sarah Rovinsky

Two bombs exploded in the capital of Turkey October 10, killing at least 95 and wounding 246 people.
The event took place at a peace rally made up of Kurdish and leftist groups demanding an end to the clashes between Turkey and Kurdish rebel fighters. Hundreds had traveled from around the country to participate in what was supposed to be a peaceful march. The two blasts took place about 50 meters (54 yards) apart, within seconds of each other and was one of the deadliest attacks in Turkish history.

The Turkish government handled the situation in the poorest ways possible. According to The Huffington Post, “Following the explosions, police doused people scrambling to help the wounded with tear gas, several survivors told The WorldPost (the tear gas can be seen in various pictures and videos from the scene). People used the flags and banners brought to the rally to bandage up victims’ wounds, or as makeshift stretchers, according to a video by The Associated Press. Police later prevented journalists from accessing the blast site. A video posted by an activist group called Student Collectives showed protesters breaking up a police barricade that was preventing ambulances from passing.”

Protests erupted outside hospitals around Ankara due to the government’s response to the blasts. Hundreds gathered outside the Ankara Numune hospital, demanding information on their loved ones. Very few family members were allowed inside. “Mevlut, a 30-year-old Turkish man, walked through the crowd outside the hospital with a plastic bag filled with 300 sandwiches he had bought for grieving and anxious relatives. ‘I’m just here to support,’ he told The WorldPost, saying he planned to donate blood as soon as people were allowed into the hospital.”

“There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks,” the Huffington Post reported. “Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference there were ‘strong signs’ the attacks had been carried out by suicide bombers, and indicated that the Islamic State militant group or Kurdish separatists could be to blame.” Demonstrations against the government and the attacks took place around the country. Many are blaming the government for the attacks despite the efforts of the Prime Minister.

Turkish authorities ordered a media blackout on images that showed the moment of the blasts, gruesome or bloody pictures or “images that create a feeling of panic.” A government spokesman warned news organizations they could face a “full blackout” if they did not comply. People throughout the country found themselves unable to access social media Saturday evening. It was not clear if authorities had blocked access to the websites, but Turkey has frequently imposed blackouts after major events like terror attacks and public scandals.

Shortly after the attacks, Kurdish rebels declared a temporary cease-fire in the lead-up to Turkey’s election on Nov. 1. The rebels would cease attacks on the condition that Kurds not be targeted. In a later statement, the rebels said the government bore responsibility for the bombings, and accused the ruling Freedom and Justice party (AKP) of using the instability to cling in power in the coming election.

As result of the violence seen, Turkey announced it was taking a larger role in the battle against the Islamic State in Syria — joining airstrikes by the U.S- and opening its military bases to U.S. air forces, including a series of airstrikes on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.