Ankara blasts divide Turkish media

Pictures of the victims of Saturday's bomb blasts during a commemoration on October 11, 2015 in Ankara, Turkey. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kurdish and left-wing voices are blaming the government for the attack

Turkish media commentators are divided in their attitude to the government's apportioning of blame for the deadly bombings in Ankara that killed nearly 100 people on Saturday.

There is some support for the government's view that the Islamic State group was behind the attack, but other writers accuse the authorities of neglecting public security.

Kurdish and left-wing voices have gone so far as to accuse the authorities of carrying out the attacks in a bid, they say, to weaken the pro-Kurdish opposition ahead of November's snap parliamentary election.

Arab media are generally accusing Turkey of a lax approach to armed Islamist groups.

'Another Syria'

Turkish television channels of all political complexions have been leading on the story.

Pro-government channels carried official statements vowing to punish those responsible, while opposition stations highlighted calls by pro-Kurdish and other opposition parties for ministers to resign.

Pro-opposition Fox TV noted "tension at the commemorative ceremony" as police stopped mourners from laying flowers at the scene.

Image copyright Cumhuriyet
Image caption The Cumhuriyet paper accuses police of standing by and watching as the attack unfolded

Centre-right newspapers generally support the government view. Hurriyet and Milliyet say (in Turkish) evidence points to Islamic State, while Vahdet sees the blasts as the group's attempt to turn the country "into another Syria".

Nonetheless, pro-government Aksam promotes a theory that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad ordered the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to plant the bombs.

Opposition papers are far more critical of the authorities. Left-wing Evrensel and Birgun call on the government to resign over security lapses, while pro-Kurdish Ozgur Gundem bluntly dubs President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "murderer".

Secular Cumhuriyet also highlights alleged security failings. It headlines its website "bomb exploded as police stood by or watched", saying there were at least 20 undercover police officers in the vicinity.


Kurdish online media lead on the PKK and its allies accusing the government of carrying out the bomb attacks as what they say is part of an election ploy.

They highlight a PKK statement saying "nobody else is behind the massacre apart from Erdogan and his counter-guerrilla team", while the pro-PKK Kurdish National Congress holds the governing AKP party and President Erdogan "responsible for the Ankara massacre".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The centre-right press in Turkey agrees with government claims that Islamic State was responsible for the 97 deaths

Both statements draw parallels between the bombings and deadly attacks on pro-Kurdish rallies in Suruc and Diyarbakir earlier this year, accusing the state of carrying them out in order to end the Turkey-PKK "peace process".

The pro-PKK Roj News website highlights comments by Hatip Dicle, co-leader of the Kurdish Democratic Society Congress, equating the "mentality of the AKP and Islamic State".

'Lax attitude'

Arab media cover the story in less detail and, although they generally agree that Islamic State is to blame, many accuse the Turkish government of being soft on jihadists.

Egypt's official Al-Ahram newspaper accuse the government of making the country a "target for terrorism" through its "lax attitude" to jihadists crossing borders.

This view is shared by Syrian official newspapers and Lebanon's pro-Syrian Al-Safir, which accuse President Erdogan of playing politics with people's lives in the run-up to early parliamentary elections next month.

Saudi Arabia's Al-Madinah is more sympathetic, and urges international cooperation to "expose those who support terrorism". The Saudi-owned London newspaper Al-Hayat sees a "widening rift" between the government and Kurds in Turkey.

Iranian media made little comment on the story, and outlets that did pick it up were firmly anti-Erdogan.

The official Arabic-language Iranian TV channel Al-Alam notes opposition accusations that the government is behind the attack, and the conservative newspaper Resalat sees Saturday's blasts as further evidence that President Erdogan is "losing authority at home and abroad".

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