Thousands condemn terrorism as shopping mall reopens in Ankara after bombing

Turks denounce terrorism at mass rally in the city of Denizli

Bombing highlights need to unite against terror internationally

The death toll from a suicide bombing in Ankara rose to 9 as another victim died in hospital.

Europe serves as training ground for PKK suicide bomber
Reports reveal bomber attended meetings in Europe


Suicide bomber with criminal record was the attacker

The explosion that ripped through a shopping district in Ankara on May 22 highlights the urgent need to unite against terror internationally. The blast that tore through the Ankara shopping district, killing six people and wounding nearly one hundred, was caused by a bomb carried by a PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) trained terrorist who attended numerous meetings in Europe. 

The recent increase of coordinated attacks in Turkey, which use new techniques along with explosives and weapons that cross the border from northern Iraq, are a disturbing result of the deteriorating security situation in the region, and the inability of the Iraqi leadership to take action against the PKK. US officials have stated that US-led forces in Iraq are overburdened and therefore are unable to crackdown on PKK bases in the north. Other factors contributing to the spread of terrorism beyond Iraq are the lack of effective international measures and global cooperation against terrorism.

General Yasar Buyukanit, Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, stated in mid-April that a Turkish military operation "must be made" to hit PKK bases in northern Iraq. 

There is increased concern in Turkey that the freely operating PKK training camps in northern Iraq (which are reported to receive weapons used by US forces in Iraq) now pose new security risks and if undeterred the outlawed organization's global network will also be strengthened. The assistance given to the May 22 suicide bomber by the European arm of the PKK terrorist network is just one example that demonstrates the ease with which members of an illegal organization can operate and cross international borders.

Over the past few years, other terrorist organizations which have targeted Europe and Turkey, have also grown in strength worldwide. In 2003, 30 people were killed and 146 wounded when suicide car bombs hit two synagogues in Istanbul. Five days later 32 people were killed in similar attacks on the British consulate and HSBC bank in the city. The bombs were blamed on Al Qaeda.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, NATO, and Turkey.

Turkey calls on NATO and UN for support in combatting terror

Ankara's efforts on the diplomatic front to cement a firm stance among the international community are now focused on a Foreign Ministry initiative that will bring the issue to the agenda of international bodies such as the United Natioons and NATO.

Although there has been international condemnation of the attacks carried out by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), greater collective support and action is being sought.

During a recent NATO meeting, Turkey's Permanent Representative to NATO, Amb. Tacan Ildem, brought the issue to the attention of NATO representatives.

Amb. Ildem provided detailed information obtained by security officials regarding the use of explosives in numerous terrorist attacks. In the last few months approximately 200 kilograms of explosives, believed to be brought over the border from northern Iraq into Turkey by the PKK, have been seized in separate operations launched in the provinces of Muğla, Van, İstanbul, İzmir, Ağrı and Şırnak. 

"We demand more support from NATO in our fight against the PKK and its offshoot Kongra-Gel in the north of Iraq -- a kind of support that complies with the spirit of this organization," Ildem stated at the meeting.

Recent news reports have disclosed that Ankara is preparing a strongly worded letter on this urgent matter which will be presented to the UN Secretary-General by Turkey's Permanent Representative to the UN., Amb. Baki Ilkin.

Ankara will undoubtedly be focusing on Turkey's legitimate right of self-defence, UN Security Council resolutions on combatting terrorism, and international agreements on counterterrorism.

Vatan - June 3, 2007

US shocked by Ankara bombing, offers assistance


ÜMİT ENGİNSOY WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News - May 24, 2007

  The United States said on Tuesday that it was shocked by a bomb blast in Ankara earlier in the day killing at least six people and injuring around 100 others, offering its assistance in the terrorist attack's aftermath.

  It also said that it was determined to work with the Turkish government to combat all forms of terrorism.

  "On behalf of the American people, we express our shock and horror at the tragic event that occurred this evening in Ankara," the U.S. embassy in Ankara said in a written statement hours after the explosion.

  "We reach out in sympathy and solidarity to the victims of this heinous crime and stand ready to provide every possible assistance," it said in the statement received here. "We remain steadfast in our determination to work together with the government of Turkey to combat terrorism in all its forms."

  "Our hearts go out to those who've lost loved ones and friends in the explosions," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters here. "Certainly we wish all of those who are injured a speedy recovery."

  McCormack said he did not know at that point who or what was responsible for the blast. His remarks came shortly after the explosion and before it was understood that the incident was a bombing.

PKK believed to be responsible

  Turkish officials say the separatist terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is likely to be responsible for the Ankara bombing.

  The PKK has launched similar attacks in other big cities and holiday resorts in recent years, but the blast in front of a crowded shopping mall in Ankara's oldest neighborhood was the first such large-scale incident hitting the Turkish capital in many years.

  Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt warned shortly after the blast that similar bombings might also take place elsewhere in Turkey.

  Analysts here suggested that the bombing was likely to worsen the already high political tensions as Turkey is gearing up for snap national elections on July 22 in the wake of the Parliament's failure to elect a new president.

  The military, in a strongly-worded midnight statement on April 27 had warned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's traditionalist government over secularism.

  The Turkish Army has been conducting security operations in southeast Turkey near the Iraq border, where the PKK is active, and there are daily reports of casualties from both sides coming from the region.

  The military accuses Iraqi Kurdish groups of providing the PKK, which operates from bases in neighboring northern Iraq, with weapons, shelter and logistics.

  Putin: Let's intensify efforts against terror 

  Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called the attack in Ankara “tragic proof” of the need to intensify the battle against terrorism.

  "It is new tragic proof of the need to intensify international efforts to combat terrorism," he said in a message to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan distributed by the Kremlin. "I ask you to transmit my profound condolences to the parents and relatives of the deceased, words of support and my hopes for a prompt recovery for the injured.

  European Union president: Ruthless terror attack

  Current European Union president Germany condemned what it called the "ruthless terror attack" in Ankara and called for those behind the bombing to be brought to justice. "The Presidency of the European Union was deeply shocked to learn of the ruthless terror attack in Ankara," Germany's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. "The Presidency utterly condemns this terrible crime and extends its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims."

  Rehn: Cowardly attack

  The European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join, on Wednesday condemned the "horrible and cowardly attack".

  "The European Commission expresses its solidarity with Turkey in its efforts to fight terrorism, which is a common concern for the EU  and Turkey," EU Enlargament Commissioner Olli Rehn said in a statement in Brussels. The Embassy of Italy in Ankara expressed yesterday its deepest regret for the innocent victims of yesterday's terrorist attack in Ulus. “On behalf of the Italian Government, we firmly condemn this barbarian act of terrorism and violence and we express our strongest support to the Turkish people.”


Council of Europe Secretary-General holds meeting with PKK members

After condemning the attack in Ankara, Council of Europe Secretary-General Terry Davis, met with PKK members sought by Interpol

Council of Europe Secretary-General Terry Davis, who had condemned the bombing of a busy shopping district in Ankara on May 22, met with PKK supporters in Strasbourg just days after he denounced acts of terror, stating: “I am revolted by the most recent ruthless terror attack in Turkey. Killing people while they go about their everyday lives is murder, and the people responsible for this atrocious act of violence are criminals, whatever cause they claim to pursue.” 

These remarks were followed by news reports that Davis had met with PKK supporters in Strasbourg only two days after the attack. The disturbing news sparked harsh reactions from the Turkish capital.

It was also disclosed that the supporters of the terrorist PKK organization requested that the Council of Europe send an independent team of doctors to Turkey to examine the jailed terrorist PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

“Such a meeting cannot be justified with any reasoning, and it has cast a shadow over the Council of Europe's determination against international terror,” stated Ambassador Daryal Batıbay, Turkey's permanent representative to the Council of Europe, during a tense meeting with Davis. Amb. Batıbay also told Davis that among those with whom he met were PKK members for whom Interpol has issued a red bulletin.

June 1, 2007

Thousands of Turks unite to denounce terrorism 
as they attend the reopening of a shopping mall in Ankara only days after 
it was bombed by a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist

Attack in Ankara triggers international condemnation

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer released a statement strongly condemning the attack and stated: “The Allies stand in solidarity with Turkey and the Turkish people in the face of terrorism. … NATO remains united and determined in the fight against terrorism.”

There was widespread international condemnation of the bombing from European Union and NATO members.

The blast “is new tragic proof of the need to intensify international efforts to combat terrorism,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Britain’s minister for Europe Geoff Hoon described the attack as “callous,” while the European Union, the Council of Europe, France, Spain, Germany, and the US also denounced the bombing.

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis condemns terrorist attack in Ankara: "We condemn in the most categorical way the cowardly criminal terrorist attack which struck the heart of the Turkish capital and cost the lives of innocent citizens and the injury of many others. "We express our heartfelt condolences and sincere solidarity to the families of the victims, and wish a speedy recovery to those injured. The effective fighting against international terrorism requires the greatest possible cooperation among the international community." 

Netherlands Connection in Ankara Bombings

Turkish authorities have reported that the PKK (Kurdistan Worker's Party) suicide bomber in Ankara on May 22, Güven AKKUŞ, was trained in Holland as a terrorist in a village near the city of Eindhoven. Doğan News Agency reported that the camp where the suicide bomber received 3 years of training was also used by other PKK terrorists for a period of 18 years.

The news agency further reported that PKK terrorists which were recently apprehended by the Turkish police came from Belgium, Austria, France, Sweden and Denmark, and had received training at PKK facilities in Europe.

May 30, 2006 


"Who feeds terrorist groups ? Who's behind them ? That's what we need to look at ! "
    Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit

Military blasts allies for supporting PKK

Turkish Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit opens international symposium on "New Dimensions of Security & International Organizations."

The New Anatolian - Ankara - June 1, 2007

Turkish Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit accused Thursday some NATO allies of providing assistance to the PKK terrorists but did not name any countries. "It [terrorism] is supported by those who give us lessons on human rights," he lamented.

"There are countries directly and/or indirectly supporting PKK terrorism, among our (NATO) allies," the military leader said at an international symposium on "New Dimensions of Security & International Organizations."

"Turkey cannot get the international support in its rightful fight against terrorism," Gen. Buyukanit complained.

"Land mines used in Turkey and explosives such as C4, A3, A4 which are used in every murder in Turkey are not bought from supermarkets" Buyukanit said.

"Countries (backing terrorism for political purposes) use double standard in combating terrorism, and turn a blind eye to activities of persons or organizations that do not stage terrorist attacks on their own territories. Incidents prove that these countries are unable to control terrorism, backed or created by themselves, and terrorism hits those countries in the end," Gen. Buyukanit stated.

The Turkish military leader reiterated that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) are ready for international cooperation and solidarity, and to share information and intelligence regarding security issues.

"What makes us sad about the fight against terrorism, which threatens our identity and our country as a democratic, secular, social state of law, is that these terrorist activities are backed by some countries that are trying to teach us lessons on human rights. Some institutions (in those countries) have grown to become terrorist associations. I'd like to ask how a joint fight against terrorism is possible under such circumstances," Buyukanit stressed.

Unpredictable environment

Buyukanit pointed to the changes that took place in the last decades saying, "with the end of the Cold War period that lasted more than 40 years, the wind of change that took place in every field started to unsettle and even remove the parameters on which we founded our strategies in politics, economy and security."

Buyukanit stated that merely by looking at the changes in the last 17 years since the end of Cold War, and 6 years since September 11 "we can see how the intervals of change have narrowed down."

Buyukanit said perceptions of threat have changed in this new period. "International security environment has become very uncertain and unpredictable. Those societies that cannot understand this change on time, will unfortunately remain bystander to the results."

Buyukanit stated that determining when and how the risks and threats will take place is not as easy as it was during the Cold War. "We do not know how and when we will face the threat. The threat seems weak compared to states' power and capabilities however it has an asymmetric power that can create the desired effect on the desired time, place and manner. Today we witness this in many places in Afghanistan and Iraq. The point that needs to be underlined is that it is a prerequisite which the states should not apply double standards in terms of security. "

Backing separatism

"Supporting separatist movements and attempting to change sovereignty rights and/or the regime of a country are as illegal and dangerous as terrorism itself," Buyukanit warned.

Buyukanit said, "the new security environment in our age has also shaped the new threats. Terrorism is the biggest threat against security. Under the new security concept, there are serious differences regarding international definition of terrorism. This conflict has rendered it difficult to take global measures against terrorism."

"Some of our allies focus on terrorism stemming from fundamentalist trends. Actually, terrorism cannot be defined in this way. Terrorism is also fed by separatist nationalist tendencies. This kind of terrorism is as dangerous as the first one. However, some countries consider such kind of terrorism a domestic problem. This is an extremely dangerous approach since it seriously hampers the fight against terrorism," he said.

"Terrorism stemming from ethnic nationalism uses a different identity definition for its own political purposes. It supports this with armed acts. If an ethnic structure is acting with a political purpose, it becomes a racist structure and this is ethnic nationalist terrorism. The ethnic nationalist fascist terrorist organization PKK is an example of this," he stressed.

UN role

Buyukanit said that there is need for a global cooperation against terrorism in order to be successful.

"Those who not only stage these attacks but also who extend financial, logistical and propagandist support to terrorists should be deemed as a terrorist," Buyukanit said.

Buyukanit said that an efficient international cooperation in fight against terrorism is only possible under the banner of the UN.

Economic imbalances

On the other hand, Buyukanit said that economic imbalance is another security threat.

Within this framework, countries that own energy resources and countries that control the transportation corridors have geopolitical and geostrategical importance, Buyukanit noted.

Washington's anti-PKK moves fall short for Turkey

Reuters - By Kristin Roberts - July 20, 2007 

WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - U.S. efforts to stop Kurdish militants in Iraq from attacking Turkey have been meager and unsuccessful, increasing the chances of a retaliatory strike from Ankara, according to some U.S. officials and analysts.

The Bush administration has focused on diplomacy to ease tensions along the border between Turkey and Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, used by Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK militants as a springboard for attacks in Turkey.

The U.S. Treasury Department has targeted PKK fund flows through Europe as well.

But U.S. officials concede too little has been done to aid Turkey, an important ally for Washington in the Muslim world. Current efforts have failed to curb attacks linked to the PKK and have not eased Ankara's threats to strike inside Iraq's Kurdish area or stopped it from massing tens of thousands of troops along the border.

"I'm afraid they're getting themselves worked up into a position where they can't back down from the statements that they have made," a U.S. official said of Turkey.

What is missing, according to both Turkish and U.S. officials, is a visible U.S. military response -- something unlikely to materialize while troops are focused on intense fighting elsewhere in Iraq.

"It simply is the physical difficulty of cracking down and our inability to pull the forces needed to do this away from the other tasks in Iraq, which are legion," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

For the Turks, the lack of military action coupled with the Bush administration's public admonition against a Turkish invasion smack of hypocrisy.

"We're ceding the battlefield of legitimacy over the PKK," said Michael Rubin, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute conservative think tank, arguing the PKK is not being treated like a terrorist group despite carrying that label in Washington.

That, according to Rubin, leads Muslim Turkey to question whether the U.S.-declared war on terror is actually a war on Islam, he said.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic Kurdish homeland. More than 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

This year, more than 200 Turkish soldiers and PKK rebels have been killed, according to a Turkish human rights group.

Those deaths have been front-page news in Turkey and opposition parties have made security in the face of increased PKK attacks a campaign issue ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Arms tension increasing between two NATO allies

In the first official remarks last week, Turkish Ambassador to Washington Nabi Şensoy said U.S. weapons have been turning up in the hands of the PKK members staging attacks in Turkey. 

Turkish Daily News - July 18, 2007
Ankara is not satisfied by Washington’s response to allegations that US forces in Iraq supply weapons to PKK members. US State department says claims are baseless

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

The Turkish government is not convinced by the U.S. explanation in regard to allegations that U.S. forces in Iraq were supplying weapons to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq.

  “We can see that many of the confiscated weapons (used by PKK members) are U.S.-made. It is not clear whether they (U.S.) are supplying the weapons or they (PKK members) are getting it from somewhere else. But a serious amount of weapons confiscated so far are U.S.-made,” Erdoğan told NTV television late Monday.

  He said Ankara informed the United States many times of the situation. “There are some approaches but it is not possible to be convinced by them,” he added.

  In the meantime, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the allegations were baseless.

  “… I can tell you such reports would have no basis in fact,” he told reporters at a daily press briefing.

  Last week, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül presented a dossier to U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson, proving the use of U.S.-made weapons by PKK terrorists staging attacks in Turkey. On Saturday, Wilson said Washington was investigating the claims. “We're looking into this report, in the same way as we did other reports. We take them seriously and are working on them.”

  Recently, four PKK terrorists, who handed themselves over to Turkish authorities after escaping from a PKK camp in northern Iraq, claimed they had seen two U.S. armored vehicles deliver weapons to the PKK in their camp. But in the first official remarks last week, Turkish Ambassador to Washington Nabi Şensoy said U.S. weapons have been turning up in the hands of the PKK members staging attacks in Turkey. 

  He did not suggest that the U.S. has been supplying the PKK directly. But he accused Kurdish members of the Iraqi government of allowing the group to operate in northern Iraq and to stage cross-border attacks into Turkey.

Former ambassador urges US to rethink air strikes on PKK

Umit Enginsoy - Turkish Daily News - July 26, 2007

Morton Abramowitz, a former U.S. ambassador to Ankara, urged the United States to consider air strikes against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) targets in northern Iraq as a last resort to put an end to the group's presence inside Iraqi territory.

  In an interview with the Turkish Daily News, Abramowitz qualified the PKK threat emanating from northern Iraq as one top problem facing the U.S.- Turkish relationship in the wake of Turkey's general elections last weekend, which gave another five-year mandate to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).

  More than 100 people have been killed in Turkey in PKK attacks since the spring. Ankara's repeated calls on the United States and Iraq to act decisively against the PKK have so far produced no visible results, prompting warnings that the Turkish military might resort to unilateral military action inside Iraqi territory.

  Turkey's military and diplomats also accuse Iraqi Kurds of providing the PKK with safe haven, arms and logistics.

  Abramowitz, presently a senior fellow at the think tank Century Foundation, called on Washington to tell Iraqi Kurds to limit the PKK's activities or capture some of its leaders and cooperate with Ankara to prevent the terrorists' infiltration into Turkey.

  "If this doesn't happen, the United States should consider using its air power to help destroy the PKK and its infrastructure in Iraq," he said.

  But he said the U.S. government was not acting with a single voice and that there might be major differences within the U.S. military.

Iraqi Kurds should act:

  In any case Abramowitz, who was the United States ambassador to Ankara during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, became the first former senior U.S. official to urge Washington to mull military action against the PKK.

  But his motive is differs from nationalist groups in Turkey who also advocate military measures to fight the PKK.

  Abramowitz believes the Kurdish region in northern Iraq is a success story, which should continue to live. He urges Iraqi Kurdish leaders, and particularly Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish regional government, to engage in much-needed good relations with Turkey.

  "The U.S. government must convince Barzani that even though his people sympathize with the PKK's cause, cracking down on the PKK is in Iraqi Kurdish interests," Abramowitz also said in an article on the web site of Foreign Policy magazine. " ‘Iraqi Kurdistan' may be booming now, but its economic and political success is at risk if Turkey takes military action."

  He told the TDN that he does not "absolve" Turkey's Kurdish policies, which he believes are not bright.

  Abramowitz says Turkey should decide how to deal with Iraqi Kurds other than to ignore their political existence, and more importantly, review its policies about its own Kurdish problem.

More troubles ahead:

  Mark Parris and Marc Grossman, two other former U.S. ambassadors to Ankara, also told the TDN this week that the United States should take decisive action against the PKK without further delay.

  Matt Bryza, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said here Monday that there was "a shift of mood in Washington" on the PKK matter, implying that the U.S. would soon take new measures. But he did not elaborate.

  Abramowitz said the most urgent issue threatening U.S.-Turkish ties was a resolution pending in the House of Representatives, which calls for the recognition of World War I-era Armenian killings in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. He said the bill was very likely to pass in the House floor after Congress August recess.

  He said the relationship could also suffer more damage because of differences on Iran, which the United States accuses of seeking to obtain nuclear weapons.

  Abramowitz warned that a recent preliminary agreement signed by Turkey and Iran on natural gas cooperation, if it went forward, might prompt U.S. sanctions on Ankara.

Turkish General Staff Hosts International Security Symposium

The Turkish General Staff hosted an international symposium on "New Dimensions of Security and International Organizations" at the War Academy between May 31 and June 1, 2007. The symposium was opened by Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt. The two-day symposium included discussions on "Changes in the Concept of Security and International Affairs.”

Text in Turkish is available by clicking on the links below:

( SEMPOZYUM  31 Mayıs 2007 Harp Akademileri  - SYMPOSIUM  May 31 2007 War Academy)



Turkey takes measures on borders to prevent PKK infiltration

Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces General Yasar Buyukanit recently stated that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will take all necessary measures on its borders to prevent infiltration of members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party ( PKK).

The terrorist organization PKK, and its supporters, are likely to intensify their efforts to give rise to acts of terrorism so as to create an atmosphere of turmoil in Turkey.

In order to prevent PKK infiltration the TSK, as in previous years, has reinforced its troops in border regions within the context of its security operations and under its authorities and responsibilities which are determined by law.

The Turkish military has for many years entered into northern Iraq in pursuit of PKK members. The troop movements inside Turkey during recent months are considered routine deployments that occur each year as the PKK becomes more active in the spring.

More than 35,000 people have been killed since 1984 due to terrorist activitites of the PKK and clashes with security forces.

Turkish troops already in northern Iraq aim to prevent the terrorist organization from conducting attacks in Turkey. Since the 1990's, Turkish troops have been stationed in this area of Iraq, and have contributed to enhancing security and authority in the mountaneous border region. 

Lack of adequate international cooperation is another factor that has fueled the spread of terrorism in the region.

Turkey does not plan to end activities of TSK troops in northern Iraq as long as the presence of the terrorist organization in the region continues. In mid-April, Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces General Yasar Buyukanit, stated that a Turkish military operation in northern Iraq to hit PKK bases "must be made."

While Turkey has been combating PKK terror, it has sought to maintain stability in the region, and has repeatedly called on the United States to crackdown on members of the PKK in northern Iraq. Washington has instead focused attention on a trilateral mechanism involving Turkey, Iraq and the United States to deal with the terrorist problem. However, the increase in the number of coordinated attacks by PKK members, and the amount of explosives and weapons crossing over from bases in Iraq, shows that the trilateral mechanism has failed. The Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces recently stressed the need for greater international cooperation and solidarity regarding security issues and the fight against terrorism.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, NATO, and Turkey.

June 1, 2007

International community supports Turkey in its fight against terrorism

The New Anatolian May 24, 2007 

Attack condemned by international community

EU and NATO voices solidarity with Turkey

European Union Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn on Wednesday voiced strong support to Turkey in its fight against terrorism.

Rehn condemned the terrorist attack in the heart of Ankara that left six people dead and more than 90 wounded and offered his condolences to relatives of victims.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said in Brussels that he strongly condemned this horrible and cowardly attack. Rehn stressed that EU Commission is in solidarity with Turkey against terrorism which is a common source of concern.

Germany, which holds the rotating EU presidency, and NATO condemned the attack.

Releasing a statement, the EU Presidency said in its web-site, "the Presidency of the European Union was deeply shocked to learn of the ruthless terror attack in Ankara yesterday evening in which so many people were killed or injured."

"The Presidency utterly condemns this terrible crime and extends its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims. The Presidency wishes those injured a speedy recovery and assures the Turkish people of its full support. The people behind this cowardly crime must be tracked down and brought to justice. The fight against them must be waged with all the instruments that a State based on the rule of law has at its disposal," it added.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a statement, "on behalf of NATO, I strongly condemn the attack. The Allies stand in solidarity with Turkey and the Turkish people in the face of terrorism. I express my profound condolences to the Turkish people, in particular the families of those who lost their lives, and wish speedy recovery to the injured. NATO remains united and determined in the fight against terrorism."

Council of Europe (COE) Secretary General Terry Davis also condemned the attack. Davis said that he was terrified with this "merciless" attack.

He noted that those who staged the terrorist attack are murderers and criminals. Davis offered his condolences to the relatives of victims.

Italy joined many European countries to condemned the incident.

Releasing a written statement on Wednesday, the Italian Embassy in Ankara expressed profound sorrow over killing of innocent people in yesterday's attack on a busy shopping mall.

"On behalf of the Italian government, our Embassy strongly condemns this barbaric attack. We commiserate with Turkish people," the statement read.

Canadian Ambassador to Turkey Yves Brodeur said in a written statement that he condemned the brutal attack on behalf of the Canadian government. Brodeur said that his country, as a friend and an ally, stands shoulder to shoulder with Turkey in its fight against terrorism.

Brodeur also offered his condolences to those who lost their relatives.

An official of the Pakistani Embassy in Ankara spoke to the Anatolian News Agency correspondent and said they condemned terrorism regardless of its place or manner. The Embassy official who asked not to be identified said those who were responsible for the attack were not friends of Turkey or Pakistan.

The official who qualified the attack as unfortunate, emphasized the need to counter terrorism in collaboration.

In a press statement Pakistani Embassy which closely follows the situation of injured Pakistan citizens said "On 22 May, 2007 a bomb blast occurred in Ulus shopping center of Ankara in which unfortunately, six people lost their lives and more than eighty sustained injuries. Among them, ten were identified as Pakistanis. Those who sustained minor injuries were allowed to go back to the Hotel after administration of first aid, while eight including one women, are being kept in hospital for treatment."

Injured Pakistanis were part of the 66-member delegation, which had come to Ankara to participate in IDEF'07 (Industrial Defense Exhibition). Seven injured Pakistanis are being treated in GATA Military Hospital of Ankara and one injured (lady) is under treatment in Hacettepe Hospital of Ankara. Following are the names of injured persons: Miss Tayyaba Pirzada, Mr. Zulfiqar Lodhi, Mr. Adeel Masood, Mr. Salman Durrani, Mr. Abdul Moeed Khan, Mr. Tariq Zafar Iqbal, Mr. Ali Ezad Abbas, Mr. Amir Hussain Khan, Mr. Shafig-ur- Rehman, Mr. Muhammed Arif Jadoon.

"On behalf of the American people, we express our shock and horror at the tragic event that occurred this evening in Ankara," said the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, releasing a statement after the explosion. "We remain steadfast in our determination to work together with the government of Turkey to combat terrorism in all its forms," the Embassy said.

"We reach out in sympathy and solidarity to the victims of this heinous crime and stand ready to provide every possible assistance," it added. Meanwhile, in his daily press briefing, spokesman of the U.S. Department of State Sean McCormack said that they commiserated with those who lost their beloved ones in the explosion.

The New Anatolian  24 May 2004

Turkish officials say suicide bombing resembled Kurdish rebel tactics

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

ANKARA, Turkey: A 28-year-old former convict who blew himself up in Turkey's capital, killing six people and injuring dozens, used methods in his attack that were similar to those of a Kurdish rebel group, authorities said Wednesday.

Ankara Gov. Kemal Onal said Tuesday's suicide bomber, Guven Akkus, had spent two years in prison for hanging illegal posters and resisting police. He did not say what kind of posters they were or if Akkus was affiliated with the separatist Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

The government-run Anatolia news agency reported that, at the time of his arrest for resisting police in May 1996, Akkus was affiliated to a little-known militant leftist group called the Turkish Union of Revolutionary Communists. The PKK, which has a Marxist background, has previously developed links with other leftist groups.

"The type of the explosives and equipment used is similar to those used by the separatist group," Onal said.

Onal said Akkus' body was blown to pieces in the blast at a bus stop in front of a busy shopping mall, and the nature of his injuries made clear he was not a victim. Police in Istanbul questioned Akkus' brother and sister for two hours, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Citing unidentified police officials, Anatolia said authorities were investigating any possible links between Akkus and the PKK because leftist militants did not traditionally carry out attacks against civilians. The DHKP-C, a banned Marxist group, has carried out suicide bombings, but those were aimed at high-level officials, the police told Anatolia.

The agency said police were investigating the possibility that the bomber may have panicked after seeing a police car and detonated the bomb earlier than intended, and not at the place initially targeted.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not directly accuse the PKK of involvement, but he suggested that the rebel group was a key suspect.

"We were worried that the terrorist organization could carry out such attacks in major cities," Erdogan said, referring to the PKK.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer implicated Kurdish rebels, saying, "This is the action of separatist terrorists."

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul convened an emergency meeting to discuss new security measures, and police launched a nationwide security sweep.

Officials said they detained a man and a woman possessing 11 pounds of explosives in the southern city of Adana. Based on the initial interrogation of the suspects, Gov. Ilhan Atis of Adana said the woman could have been planning to stage a suicide attack. The suspects' affiliation was not immediately clear.

In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair's office called the attack a "cowardly and despicable act" and said the British people "stand shoulder to shoulder with Turkey."

The attack came at the start of the tourist season, and the injured included eight Pakistanis in Ankara for a weeklong international defense industry fair. The governor put the final injury toll at 91.

Earlier this year, Kurdish militants warned that tourists could be their next "targets." The guerrillas allege Turkey is using lucrative tourism revenues to finance military operations against the separatists.

In August, a hard-line Kurdish group claimed responsibility for a bus bombing in the Mediterranean resort of Marmaris that injured 20 people, including 10 Britons.

But Islamic militants have also carried out bombings in Turkey. In 2003, al-Qaida-linked suicide truck bombers in Istanbul attacked two synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank, killing 58 people.

Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, Turkey's military chief has accused Europe of not doing enough to prevent sympathizers from providing aid to the Kurdish rebel group PKK, deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer condemned the attack, and Germany, which currently holds the European Union presidency, extended sympathies to the victims' families and said the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

The Turkish military says the rebel group is smuggling hundreds of pounds of plastic explosives into the country from neighboring Iraq, where the guerrillas have been based for decades.

There is growing impatience in Turkey on how to deal with Kurdish rebels, and the government has not ruled out military operations aimed at their bases in northern Iraq. The United States opposes Turkish military action in Iraq, fearing it would complicate U.S. efforts to restore stability there..

Associated Press Writer Suzan Fraser contributed to this report.

* * *

Suicide bomber identified in Turkish blast

The terrorist who carried out the bombing had links to an outlawed group and spent time in prison for taking part in the beating of a policeman during illegal May Day demonstrations.

The 28-year-old suicide bomber, identified as Guven Akkus, served one and a half years in jail for being a member of an illegal organization in 1996, and travelled to Netherlands with the help of the terrorist organisation PKK in 1998.

Turkish authorities state that the PKK is smuggling hundreds of pounds of plastic explosives into Turkey and other countries from Iraq, where PKK terrorist training bases freely operate. According to bilateral agreements between Iraq and Turkey, as well as international law, Turkish law enforcement and military forces have crossed the border into Iraq in pursuit of PKK terrorists.

* * *

NTV - ANKARA (May 24) Turkish authorities have identified the man responsible for staging a suicide bombing in central Ankara Tueday that killed six people and left nearly 100 wounded.

Ankara Governor Kemal Onal said on Wednesday that authorities had confirmed that the blast Tuesday evening had been caused by a suicide bomber who had been identified as Guven Akkus.

“Security forces collected three truckloads of evidence at the scene of the attack,” he told a press conference late Wednesday. “During criminal examinations, the remains of a person other than those who were killed or injured in the explosion were identified. DNA and fingerprint analyses showed that those parts belonged to a man who had two separate criminal records and spent two years in prison for hanging illegal posters, resisting police and being a member of an illegal organization.

The suicide bomber was identified as Guven Akkus, who was born in 1979. Further analyses on his clothes unveiled that he detonated the plastic explosives wrapped on his body.”


Thousands stage another pro-secular Turkey rally

The crowd also condemned a suicide bomb attack in the capital Ankara

Published: Sunday, 27 May, 2007

ANKARA: Thousands of Turks rallied in the western city of Denizli yesterday in the latest of a series of pro-secular demonstrations against the Islamist-rooted government sparked by political turmoil.

Brandishing Turkish flags, the demonstrators packed a main square of the city, which has recently come to the fore as a centre of increasing Islamist activities. “Turkey is secular, it will remain secular,” the protesters chanted. “We are here to defend the secular republic and to oppose separatist terrorism and all kinds of reactionary movements,” Gulizar Bicer Karaca, a spokeswoman for the organising committee, told the crowd, the Anatolia news agency reported.

No figures were given for the size of the protest, but reports said the rally attracted participants from nearby cities as well.

The crowd also condemned a suicide bomb attack in the capital Ankara on Tuesday which killed six people and injured more than 100. Turkish officials have said the attack tallied with the past practices of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group fighting a violent 22-year campaign for self-rule for the Kurdish minority.

The PKK has been blacklisted by the Turkish government and much of the international community as a terrorist organisation. The rebels have denied involvement in the suicide bombing.

The rally yesterday, organised and supported by some 30 non-governmental organisations, ended peacefully.

Millions have taken to the streets in recent weeks over the prospect of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the moderate offshoot of a now-banned Islamist movement, appointing one of its own as president. Last month’s presidential election grew into a crisis, the worst the government has faced since coming to power in 2002, as parliament, blocked by an opposition boycott, failed twice to hold a legal vote to elect a president.

The turmoil was exacerbated by a stiff warning from the military that it stood ready to defend the secular order. It accused the government of failing to prevent rising Islamist activity.

A ceremony in Denizli, where young girls wearing Islamic-style headscarves sang religious songs to mark Prophet Muhammad’s birth, was mentioned in the army statement as evidence.

The crisis forced Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to bring legislative elections forward to July 22 from November. The sole presidential candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, withdrew his candidacy and the government rushed through parliament a package of sweeping constitutional changes.

But President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on Friday rejected the amendment package, dealing a fresh blow to the AKP government. The AKP has disowned its Islamist roots, pledged commitment to secularism and carried out democracy reforms that secured the opening of membership talks with the European Union. But opponents say the party still harbours Islamist ambitions, pointing at AKP opposition to a headscarf ban in universities and public offices, its encouragement of religious schools and a failed attempt to restrict alcohol sales. – AFP


Thousands of Turks Stage Pro-Secular Rally

By VOA News - 26 May 2007

Supporters of the main opposition Republican People's Party hold national and party flags and posters during a rally in southern city of Mersin, Turkey, 26 May 2007

Thousands of Turks rallied Saturday in the western city of Denizli against the country's pro-Islamic government.

Demonstrators chanted "Turkey is secular and will remain secular." It was the latest in a series of nationwide protests. Pro-secular demonstrations also have been held in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Samsun.

Protesters accuse the ruling AK party of attempting to undermine the nation's secular order.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed support for the country's secular laws, but his opponents say he has a secret agenda. His AK party pushed through political reforms after parliament failed to elect the party's candidate for president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

Mr. Erdogan called for early parliamentary elections on July 22 because of the political deadlock.

Turkey's main opposition party, the pro-secular Republican People's Party, and the left-wing Democratic Left Party have formed an alliance to contest the elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

Thousands of secular Turks protest Islamic-rooted government in latest rally

The protest in Denizli follows massive demonstrations in Turkey's four largest cities

The Associated Press - Saturday, May 26, 2007

ANKARA, Turkey: Thousands of flag-waving secular Turks demonstrated in a western city on Saturday in the latest of a series of nationwide rallies against the pro-Islamic government they fear is taking steps to dilute the Western lifestyle of many Turks.

The protest in Denizli follows massive demonstrations in Turkey's four largest cities — Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Samsun — and comes before July 22 general elections which will pit Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted party against the secular opposition.

"Turkey is secular and will remain secular!," the demonstrators chanted in Denizli, where police took intense security measures amid a surge of attacks by separatist Kurdish guerrillas across the country.

The leaders of two main secular parties, heeding calls from rally squares, have formed an alliance to challenge Erdogan in the polls.

The demonstrations began in early April to pressure Erdogan's government against nominating his ally, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, as a presidential candidate. Many Turks feared the move would allow his Islamic-leaning party to expand its powers and govern unchecked.

Secular opposition parties then boycotted the presidential voting process in parliament, creating a political deadlock and forcing Gul to abandon his bid.

The standoff, along with increasing pressure from Turkey's powerful military, led Erdogan to call for early parliamentary elections. Legislators also passed an amendment to allow the president to be elected directly by the people, rather than by parliament, which is dominated by members of Erdogan's party.

On Friday, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer vetoed the amendment, saying it was incompatible with Turkey's democratic system and could lead to instability.

The veto by the staunchly secular president was widely expected. Sezer argued that a president elected by popular vote could challenge Parliament since both would represent the nation's will, which could spark instability in the country.

Erdogan has said his government will have the amendment passed in Parliament a second time. The president cannot block the amendment a second time, but could call a referendum on the issue.

The government called elections four months earlier than scheduled to defuse the political tensions that exposed an ever growing divide over the public role of Islam in this predominantly Muslim but secular country.

The military threatened to intervene to protect the secular system as secular Turks took to the streets to protest the government which has its roots in Turkey's Islamic movement.