Turkey’s government have labelled the Islamic State their prime suspect as they continue to investigate fatal suicide bombings which resulted in the deaths of at least 97 people in Ankara last weekend.
Two bomb blasts occurred just seconds apart from each other during a rally of pro-Kurdish activists and civic groups on Saturday 10th October near to the capital’s main train station.
The attack is the worst of its kind on Turkish soil and resulted in fierce protests from members of the public who have vented their anger at President Tayyip Erdogan.
Hundreds chanting anti-government slogans marched on a mosque in Istanbul following the blasts for the funerals of several victims with leaders of the pro-Kurdish parliamentary opposition, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), in attendance.
Opponents of the ruling party blamed Erdogan for the attack, accusing the state at best of intelligence failings and at worst of complicity by stirring up nationalist, anti-Kurdish sentiment.
The government, facing a growing Kurdish conflict at home and the spill-over of war in Syria, vehemently denies such accusations.
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said the attack had been carried out in an attempt to influence the outcome of November polls whereby Erdogan hopes to restore a majority for the ruling AK party. Officials say there is no question of postponing the vote.
“If you consider the way the attack happened and the general trend of it, we have identified Islamic State as the primary focus,” Davutoglu told Turkey’s NTV television.
“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.”
The Haberturk newspaper has cited police sources as saying the type of explosive and the choice of target also pointed to a group within Islamic State known as the ‘Adiyaman ones’ – a reference to Adiyaman province in southeastern Turkey.
Turkey is vulnerable to infiltration by Islamic State, which holds swathes of Syrian land abutting Turkey where some two million refugees live.
But there has been no word from the group – usually swift to publicly claim responsibility for any attack it conducts – over the Ankara bombing or two very similar incidents earlier this year.