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Turkey Hunts for Bombing Suspects

The recent spate of bombings in Turkish cities and coastal resorts (Terrorist Incident, Terrorist Incident, Terrorist Incident, and Terrorist Incident) were designed to target the tourism sector and embarrass the Turkish government . Targeting one of Turkey’s major economic interests has been a consistent strategy of Kurdish insurgent groups, such as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK; Group Profile) and the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK; Group Profile). These groups, especially the PKK, conduct orchestrated campaigns of several attacks in a short period of time against economic targets, government, military, police, and other political entities. Civilians are also targets, especially when insurgent groups are either trying to scare tourists away by making them believe Turkey is unsafe or if civilians become collateral casualties from a bomb detonation. Attacks in primarily Kurdish regions of Turkey rarely make news headlines. The Kurdish groups tend to attack government targets?police, military, or government officials–and those who openly oppose them. Many civilians were caught in the crossfire between the PKK and the government at the height of PKK activities, and the Turkish populace became wary of the violence. Support for the PKK waned. When the PKK decided to break the cease-fire that had existed for a number of years between them and the Turkish government and resume activities from bases in northern Iraq two years ago, they claimed they were forced to because the Turkish government still targeted Kurdish rebels. However, in order to not turn public, or at least Kurdish, support against them, the Kurd return to violence has been very focused. The Turkish government has tried to improve the country’s human rights record and to be more tolerant?politically and culturally–of the Kurdish minority. While many Kurds are cautious about these improvements and still support the aims of many Kurdish groups, they may not support the method, especially if civilians are caught in the crossfire. It is in this context that the Diyarbakir bombing took place. Coming so soon after the tourist bombings, both the TAK and the PKK were immediately suspected, but they have denied responsibility. Authorities believe that the bomb went off prematurely and was intended for a nearby police station. Backlash for the bombings embodied riots and condemnation by local inhabitants and politicians because local civilians, including children, died. New Group Emerging In another interesting twist, a fascist, anti-PKK group, the Turkish Revenge Brigades (TIT; Group Profile forthcoming) allegedly claimed that they were responsible for the bombing and produced a picture of the device used. However, many security officials view this claim with a great deal of skepticism because: 1) a news agency that has connections to the PKK first reported on this story, 2) the web site making the claim was put up very quickly, and 3) the picture of the bomb shown was taken in 2004. While the TIT may have been involved, it does seem rather convenient for blame to be put on an anti-Kurdish group. Since the bombing went so wrong and brought about such negative public opinion, it is likely those responsible want to distance themselves from the attack. The timing of the bombing is also suspicious. It may be coincidental that a US envoy was visiting Turkey to discuss the activities of Kurdish militants. Or, the bombing may have been designed to embarrass and derail efforts by Kurdish politicians, such as the Democratic Society Party (DTP) who were calling for the PKK to institute a cease-fire. Security specialists believe that the hard-liners in the PKK want to hinder peace talks. The PKK had been observing an unofficial cease-fire, which this bombing sabotaged. The Diyarbakir bombing may be

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OODA Analyst

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