Weighing The Aftermath Of Ankara Bombing
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Two explosions tore through a peace rally in Turkey's capital yesterday, killing at least 95 people. The twin blasts occurred within seconds of each other outside the capital's main train station. No group has yet claimed responsibility. The rally was organized by Turkey's public workers' union and several civic society groups. Kurdish groups, which are opposed to the government, were also at the rally. Joining me now from Istanbul is Tim Arango from The New York Times.
Tim, the Turkish military said it bombed Kurdish targets in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq. Are we assuming that is in response to yesterday's attacks in Ankara?
TIM ARANGO: Now, I don't think we should assume it's in response to the bombings yesterday, but it's a continuation of these military strikes that the Turkish military has been carrying out against the PKK, the Kurdish militant group, for a couple months now. But the interesting thing about the strikes today is it did come after a cease-fire announcement by the Kurdish militants that came yesterday after the bombings. So I guess this suggests that, you know, we're not going to get peace right now.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: When - talking about this explosions yesterday, what do we know about them, and do we know who did it yet, who's taken responsibility?
ARANGO: No group has claimed responsibility. The Turkish authorities say it appears to have been two suicide bombers and that they're investigating. Many people believe it's the work of Islamic State or sympathizers of the Islamic State. But it's too early to say because no group has claimed responsibility yet.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why would the Islamic State be interested in doing something like this inside Turkey?
ARANGO: Well, there was a similar attack in the town of Suruc several months ago against Kurdish activists. And, you know, the Islamic State has been fighting the Kurds in Iraq and in Syria, so many people believe that this is a spillover from that.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Following the bombings, there were huge protests in the streets of Istanbul. Were you there? How angry are people?
ARANGO: Well, there were some protests here in Istanbul last night, and there's a rally today in Ankara. And, you know, everyone is angry. The Kurds, who were the target of this for the most part, they blame the government. Many blame government directly and say this is a result of the intelligence services. And even if they don't say that the government did this itself, they blame them for not keeping them safe.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, the government's been at war with the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, for a long time. As you mentioned, they're now carrying out a bombing campaign. Why would Kurdish parties be blaming the government for something like this?
ARANGO: Well, what happened was there was a very, very long war - decades' long - between the PKK and the Turkish state. But there was a peace process in recent years that had raised a lot of hopes that this would finally end. However, in recent months, the government resumed armed conflict. The PKK itself has stepped up their attacks.
And this all came in the wake of parliamentary elections in June in which the Kurds did very well. So the Turkish government has been criticized for resuming this war, the political strategy, to regain its parliamentary majority because there are now new elections coming in less than three - actually three weeks from today.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And this bombing obviously might have some effect on those elections?
ARANGO: Certainly. There's a lot of worry now that either the elections will not be able to be held, although Turkish officials say they will go forward. But in the Kurdish southeast, where much of the violence has raged in recent months, they're worried that the elections there will not be able to be held in safety.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tim Arango is the Istanbul bureau chief with The New York Times, and he's in Istanbul right now. Thank you so much for joining us.
ARANGO: Thank you very much.
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