Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Radical Kurdish Group Claims The Twin Bombings In Istanbul

The flags are at half mast in Turkey, in the aftermath of a bombing that killed at least 38 people, including 30 policemen, in Istanbul. Nearly 160 people were also injured. The attack was claimed by the Falcons for the freedom of Kurdistan, a group linked to the PKK. A national day of mourning was declared on Sunday.

It is in a message posted on their website that the Freedom Falcons of Kurdistan (TAK) claimed responsibility for the twin attack in Istanbul yesterday evening near the Vodafone Arena, the stadium of Besiktas football team. Two members of TAK "  conducted meticulously (...) double simultaneous attack that occurred December 10, 2016  ," the group said. "  Our two comrades fell heroically martyred in this attack  ," he said.

Linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), this radical organization has claimed responsibility for several attacks this year in Ankara in February and March, and in Istanbul in June. These attacks had a total of 73 dead.

Hundreds pay tribute to victims

This claim comes as hundreds of people gathered on Sunday near the stadium of Besiktas, Turkish flag in hand, laying carnations for the victims of the twin attacks. A " march against terrorism " promoted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has called for the release of a hospital " not to be afraid and not to leave the places these despicable individuals ," reports our correspondent in Istanbul , Anne Andlauer .

Investigators continue to question the 13 people already placed in custody and traceback of the car bomb that was used in one of the attacks. The latter, the most deadly, targeted a bus of riot police at the gates of the stadium. These policemen " were targeted " terrorists, say the authorities, adding that at least 300 to 400 kilograms of explosives were used in the car bomb. The second attack, perpetrated 45 seconds in a nearby park, was the act of a suicide bomber whose identity is not yet known.

Tribute Sunday, December 11, 2016, the police killed the day before in the twin bombings in Istanbul.
REUTERS / Murad Sezer
Double attack in a tense political context

This double attack in the heart of Istanbul certainly has a very strong impact in Turkey, less than five months after the attempted coup against President Erdogan . There, since this failed coup, a takeover of the army, the judiciary and police apparatus and mass arrests in all sectors of society: army, justice, education, public services.

Along with this takeover, there is a desire to strengthen the powers of the Turkish president - the ruling party has also just tabled a bill to establish a presidential regime . President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to hold a referendum next spring on this issue after the parliamentary vote. An "  authoritarian drift  " worries the opposition. In this context, the resurgence of the terrorist threat can only reinforce President Erdogan in this desire to extend its powers.

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