Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is the focus of investigations into a twin suicide bombing that killed at least 97 people in the Turkish capital Ankara and investigators are close to identifying one of the suspects, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Oct. 12.
Speaking on Turkish broadcaster NTV in a live interview, Davutoğlu said the Oct. 10 attack was an attempt to influence the outcome of a parliamentary election on Nov. 1 and that necessary steps would be taken if security failures were found to have contributed to the bombing.
“It was definitely a suicide bombing. DNA tests are being conducted. It was determined how the suicide bombers got there. We’re close to a name, which points to one group,” he said of the worst attack in Turkey of its kind.
Two senior security sources told Reuters on Oct. 11 that initial signs suggested ISIL was behind the attack, and that it bore striking similarity to a July suicide bombing in Suruç near the Syrian border, also blamed on the radical Islamists.
The two explosions happened seconds apart on Oct. 10 as hundreds gathered for a march organised by pro-Kurdish activists and civic groups to protest over a conflict between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants in the southeast.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which said it was the target of the attack, has put the death toll at 128 and said it had identified all but eight of those bodies. Davutoğlu’s office has said 97 people were killed.
Likening Ankara explosions to 9/11 terror acts in the United States or the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo as all had targeted developed, democratic countries, Davutoğlu dismissed the opposition claims that Turkey was attacked because of its wrong foreign policy preferences.
“This is not right to adopt this psychology. This attack will not turn Turkey into Syria,” he said in response to the criticisms, adding Turkey had been hit by suicide bombers in the past even before the beginning of the Arab Spring.
No intelligence negligence
Upon questions whether there were security or intelligence negligence, Davutoğlu said Turkey has a very large intelligence capacity but he instructed for an inquiry to find out whether there were shortcomings in preventing Ankara incident.
“We will do whatever necessary in line with the results of this investigation. But Turkey has currently no any shortcomings as for intelligence capacity. But if there are some negligence on individual incidents, we’ll sure look at them,” he stated.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP), holder of the caretaker government, has decided to suspend holding election rallies until Oct. 16 in the aftermath of the Oct. 10 suicide bombing in the run-up to the snap elections on Nov.1.
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik announced the party’s decision on Oct. 12, following a Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting chaired by AKP leader, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
“Our few rallies on Friday [Oct.16] and consecutive rallies on a routine schedule, rather than a party rally, will be organized as rallies of unity, peace and fraternity against terror,” Çelik said.
Earlier on Oct. 12, Ayhan Bilgen, spokesperson for the Kurdish-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said their party is considering cancelling all of its rallies ahead of the Nov. 1 election due to security fears.
The attack, which killed at least 97 people and was the worst of its kind in Turkish history, has fuelled security concerns surrounding the election. The interior minister was reported saying that extra security precautions would be taken after the bombing.
‘Polls will be conducted on Nov 1 under all circumstances’
Turkey will hold parliamentary elections as scheduled on Nov. 1 under all circumstances, the prime minister has said, hinting a recent wave of violence that plunged the country into shock will not have an effect on the polls.
“Turkey is going to its fourth polls in one year. These attacks influenced the conditions on the way to the election but in the end we’ll hold this election under all circumstances,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told private broadcaster NTV in an interview on Oct. 12.
The perpetrators of the deadly Ankara terrorist attack aimed to hit Turkish democracy as Turkey heads to an election in days, Davutoğlu said. “[This attack] is the consequence of an effort to cast a shadow on Turkish democracy, as well as to affect the election results. That’s why we all have to direct our focus on the protection of our democracy, our people and our country.”
Davutoğlu said measures to be taken for election safety were set to be discussed during the cabinet meeting in the aftermath of Oct. 10 twin suicide bombings that killed around 100 citizens in Ankara.
The prime minister urged leaders of other political parties not to use these attacks as part of their election campaigns, saying, “Those who use this in their election campaign will surely lose.”
Davutoğlu criticized all three opposition leaders, particularly Selahattin Demirtaş, head of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), for accusing the state of the massacre and trying to take advantage of the tragedy for political purposes.
“A co-leader of a party that has a group at the parliament can go out and say, ‘These people were massacred by the state.’ Who is the state? The state is all of us. Does it suit a politician to create state phobia over such an anonymous crime?” he asked.
On the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s demand for the resignation of the interior and justice ministers, Davutoğlu recalled that these ministers did not representing the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and were appointed because of constitutional obligations.
“But on such a day, it’s wrong to come to the conclusion ‘these ministers are responsible’ without even the results of the investigation being clear,” he added.