Assigning Blame: Ankara Bombings By The Numbers
Protesters blame the Turkish government. The Turkish government suspects terrorists.
Thousands of protesters gathered on Sunday near the site of two deadly blasts that killed as many as 128 people at a peace rally in Ankara. But as they and the rest of Turkey mourn, opponents can’t agree on who’s to blame for the tragedy.
Many protesters blamed the Turkish government, accusing President Tayyip Erdogan of staging the Saturday attacks in an effort to ramp up nationalist sentiment. On Sunday, they chanted “murderer Erdogan” and “murderer police” at their demonstration.
The Turkish government, though, rejected allegations that it’s to blame, and instead pointed fingers at terrorists. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said he suspects ISIS militants or members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were responsible.
No group has yet claimed responsibility.
The discord is rooted in a much older, ongoing conflict. In fact, Saturday’s march that turned into a massacre was largely attended by members of the People’s Democratic Party, a pro-Kurdish, left-wing group that was rallying for peace between the Turkish government and the PKK, the pro-Kurdish opposition.
Here are the numbers you need to know behind the Ankara attacks:
3-month crumbling ceasefire
The purpose of Saturday’s rally was to stop rising violence between the Turkish government and the PKK, which starting ramping up after a violent incident in July.
At least 30 activists killed in July
Over 30 were killed, most of them university students, in a July 20 attack in the Turkish town of Suruc, home to many Kurds. Authorities blamed that attack on ISIS. The PKK, though, didn’t agree, saying the Turkish government paired with Islamic State militants to carry out the bombings. After a two-year ceasefire with authorities, members of the PKK then killed three Turkish police officers, which it said were “punitive” and “in revenge for the massacre in Suruc.”
Now, after Saturday’s blasts, the PKK has called for a unilateral ceasefire in order to avoid affecting the fairness of an upcoming parliamentary election, set to be held Nov. 1.
49 PKK militants killed Saturday night
Despite the PKK’s call for a ceasefire, the Turkish government launched an attack against PKK on Saturday night in response to the bombings. Authorities killed 49 PKK militants, according to a statement by the general chief of staff.
1,700 Kurdish fighters, 140 members of Turkish security forces killed in 3 months
Those are the death tolls each side claims since the ceasefire crumbled in July.
70 people were let in to the area where the blasts occurred to mourn
Of the thousands who gathered to mourn and protest Sunday, a group of just 70 people was allowed to go inside the area in front of the main train station in Ankara where the blasts occurred. Turkish police reportedly used tear gas to keep protesters from placing carnations on the site in memory of those who were killed.