Two powerful bombs exploded at a peace rally near the main train station in the heart of the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Saturday morning. Killing almost 100 people, injuring 246 others and leaving 48 in intensive care units, the bombing was deemed the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Turkish history.
Most victims were attending a lunchtime demonstration calling for an end to the renewed conflict between Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Turkish Government. Over 14,000 people were in the area at the time.
“In total, 97 people have been murdered, 68 of them died right after the blast, whereas 29 of them were severely wounded and sent to hospitals, where they lost their lives,” says Dr. Huseyin Demirden, head council of Turkish medical association.
The attack, which happened on October 10, 2015, came three weeks before national election.
Despite the attack, nothing seems to be enough to bring the Turks together as a unified nation.
During a soccer match in the conservative city of Konya, soccer fans were asked to observe a moment of silence to honor the victims. Instead of silence, fans whistled and booed in defiance.
“This is the most fatal terror attack on Turkey in its history, and the fact that we cannot come together as a country at the moment and the loss of our citizens is deeply saddening,” Ziya Meral, a Turkish academic who lives in London, told the NY Times.
Even the government could not find a way to put aside their differences and mourn the loss of citizens.
Within hours of the attack, political leaders engaged in more bickering than consolation, and angry citizens began protesting against the government.
Turkey has long been divided by a number of fault lines, including secular and religion, rich and poor, and Turks and Kurds.
“It surprises me how an event like this has not brought the country together. It makes me realize how different we were as Americans when we were under attack. After the bombing of 9/11, our country bonded together whereas this is tearing them apart,” says sophomore Alex Beagan.
A growing number of Turks worry that their country is being sucked into war like Syria.
“These attacks will not turn Turkey into Syria,” vowed Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Turkish authorities confirmed that ISIS was likely responsible for the Ankara bombings.
According to a local Turkish newspaper, the two suicide bombers have been identified as Yunus Emre Alagoz – brother to Adiyaman Alagoz, who detonated himself at a Kurdish cultural center in Suruc, killing 34 activist – and Omer Dundar.
Police detained 14 suspected Islamic State members Sunday in Konya.
The investigation of the attack has shed light on the networks that ISIS seemingly still maintains on Turkish soil, and authorities failure to crack down on them.
While no one group has been ruled out in the bombings, government opponents blamed security forces for failing to protect the peace rally.
Some Turkish media declared that the peace itself was under attack.
In a rare show of humility, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan conceded that there were “some” security lapses that enabled bombers to blow themselves up in the heart of the nation’s capitol.
Later on Sunday, October 12, police fired tear gas and wrangled with mourners and citizens in Ankara – some chanting “Murdered Erdogan” – who had tried reaching the site to lay carnations.
“It is incredibly sad that all of this is happening. Especially in this case, where people were bombed at an event promoting peace, it brings me to tears that this is what our world has come to. I do not understand it,” says sophomore Alexa Quinn.
In the end, who bombed Ankara is less important than preventing future attacks and sharing condolences to the lives lost and the grieving families.
How do you feel about the bombing of Ankara?