The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) denied involvement in two bombs that exploded in a busy Istanbul suburb on July 27, killing 17 people. “The PKK has nothing to do with this event,” the group’s leader, Zubeyir Aydar, said in a statement. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest in Istanbul since the November 2003 car bomb attacks on British and Jewish targets that left some 60 dead. But Istanbul’s Gov. Muammer Guler said, “There appears to be a link with the separatist organization,” referring to the PKK. “We are working on that.”
There is widespread skepticism about the claims. “They say it was the PKK,” Ibrahim Culhaci, whose shoe shop was wrecked in one of the blasts, told the Irish Times. “But everybody in this country is playing funny games. The PKK could just be a tool.”
While the PKK have carried out bombings—mostly in eastern Turkey, and mostly targeting security forces—Sunday’s attacks were the first ever in Turkey in which one device appeared to have been used to attract a crowd which was then hit by a second. Nihat Ali Ozcan, a former army officer and terrorism expert, insisted the cynical nature of the attack did not rule out the PKK: “That’s a technique they could easily have learned from insurgents in Iraq.”
(It strikes WW4 Report as improbable that the secular, Kurdish-nationalist PKK would emulate the tactics of Iraq’s Sunni jihadists, and even more improbable that the latter would in any way collaborate with the former—especially given that the jihadis are currently blowing up Kurds.)
Others have pointed to suspicious timing of the attacks. They came just 12 hours before Turkey’s top judges met to consider the unseating of the current Islamist-oriented government, which a prosecutor has accused of trying to “establish a state system based on religious principles,” in violation of Turkey’s founding secular principles.
The attacks also came just two days after a the formal indictment of an 80 figures accused of plotting to a coup d’etat. The gang, dubbed Ergenekon, is also reportedly linked to the murder of a judge in 2006 as well as grenade attacks on a newspaper. A columnist for Turkey’s most influential daily, Cuneyt Ulsever, wrote: “Call me paranoid, but I think Ergenekon did this. These are wild times for Turkey, the wildest I have ever seen. God knows where we are going.” (The Guardian, July 29; Irish Times, July 28)