ISTANBUL — Online investigations suggest ISIS and the Kurdish-group the PKK are the most likely groups to have been involved in the deadly blasts in Turkey’s capital, according to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Saturday’s two explosions hit a lunchtime peace rally in Ankara calling for an end to the renewed conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish government. Ninety-seven people were killed and about 246 injured.
“As the investigation on the attack deepens, through the results on Twitter accounts and IP addresses, we see the high probability that both Daesh (ISIS) and the PKK are organizations that may have had an active role,” Davutoglu said, according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.
The PKK is a militant group that has fought a long, bitter separatist campaign against the Turkish state for more than 30 years. Hostilities between the two sides resumed after the collapse of a ceasefire in July.
Among those taking part in the targeted peace rally were members of the pro-Kurdish HDP, or Peoples’ Democratic Party. The HDP has accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Davutoglu’s government of escalating the violence to try to push the party below the 10% electoral threshold to win seats in Turkey’s parliament.
The attack came three weeks ahead of a repeat parliamentary election and as Turkey deals with the ISIS threat simmering on its southern border.
The Turkish government recently changed its stance to allow the United States to launch strikes on ISIS positions from Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey. Meantime Kurdish forces have been battling ISIS across a swath of northern Iraq and Syria.
Erdogan said Tuesday that authorities were conducting DNA tests, checking on intelligence and piecing together evidence to establish who was responsible for the Ankara explosions.
“Important findings had been reached” through the DNA tests, Davutoglu said Wednesday, according to Anadolu. “Detailed investigations continue especially regarding one assailant. The investigation also continues on other communications links.”
Meantime, a security official who spoke “under customary condition of anonymity” said that two PKK members had been arrested in connection to the blast, the news agency reported.
The official said the two had been linked to a Twitter account that posted “Bomb will explode in Ankara” hours before the blasts, Anadolu said. CNN has not independently verified the report.
Three security officials have been suspended from their positions after the bombings, Turkey’s Interior Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
The Ankara police chief, Intelligence Bureau chief and Security Bureau chief had been stood down for the “health of the investigation” into the attack, the ministry said.
Attack against Turkey
CNN’s Tim Lister writes that whoever chose to attack the Ankara rally wants to stoke polarization and violence in Turkey — and destroy an already fragile political dialogue.
On Tuesday, Erdogan insisted that his entire nation had been targeted.
“This attack was against Turkey,” the President told reporters. “The target of this attack was our citizens (in Ankara) as well as the totality of our country.”
“All of our institutions are working on this, and the results of this work will show which organizations did this,” he said. “… But we must be a little patient. … I believe we will, together, find out who conducted this heinous act.”