22 Jul 2015

Anger in Turkey following suicide bomb

5:48 pm on 22 July 2015

The Turkish Government has come under fire for taking too little action to deal with the challenge posed by the militant group Islamic State (IS).

Protesters run away from police officers during a demonstration at Kadikoy district in Istanbul on July 21, 2015, a day after a suicide bomb attack blamed on the Islamic State killed 32 people in Suruc.

Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of protesters who took to the streets in Istanbul to condemn the attack in Suruc. Photo: AFP

The BBC reports people have taken to the streets to express their dismay after Monday's deadly attack in the Syrian border town of Suruc, which killed 32 young activists.

Suruc is home to many refugees who have fled fierce fighting between IS and Kurdish fighters in nearby Kobane.

The city was recaptured from the militants by Kurdish forces earlier this year.

There were violent clashes across Turkey on Monday night, as protesters accused the Government of not doing enough to combat the threat of IS.

Two people were wounded after being shot during clashes in Mersin. According to Reuters, demonstrators in Istanbul chanted slogans accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of collaboration with IS.

Western states have also accused Turkey of not doing enough to halt the rise of the group, but the country appears to have taken a harder line against it in recent weeks.

BBC Middle East correspondent Jim Muir said the authorities were now likely to target militants within Turkey itself in response to this attack, which could lead to further retaliatory attacks.

Suspect identified

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said a suspect has been identified in the attack and international and domestic links were being investigated.

He said there was a "high probability" the IS group was to blame.

He rejected claims that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had not done enough to combat IS militants, saying the government had "never tolerated any terrorist group".

Officials initially suggested the bomber might have been female, but Turkish media outlets have subsequently named a man in connection with the attack.

Armed left wing militants escort the coffins of victims of a suicide bomb attack in Suruc, as they arrive at Gazi Cemevi an Alevi district of gazi, July 21, 2015 in Istanbul.

Left-wing militants escort the coffins of victims of the suicide bomb attack in Suruc, as they arrive at a district in Istanbul. Photo: AFP

Media critical

Newspapers in Turkey have reacted with shock at the attack and some have pointed the finger at government inaction.

The criticism has not been taken up by newspapers supportive of Mr Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted party, who have instead accused unnamed outside forces of pulling Turkey into the Syrian civil war.

Among the many papers siding with the official line, the pro-government Star describes the attack as the work of "sinister hands who want to carry the war in Kobane to Turkey".

The line is echoed by pro-government paper Turkiye, which says the aim is to "drag Turkey into the quagmire".

But many opposition and leftist papers argue that Mr Erdogan and his party are to blame for having failed to secure the border and take a tougher line against the IS group.

Writing in Hurriyet, Mehmet Yilmaz said Mr Erdogan and Mr Davatoglu must take some blame as it had been obvious for some time that Turkey was likely to get dragged into the war in Syria.

"They've crossed the border" and "Let them be damned", some of the Turkish headlines said.

"The Erdogan-Davutoglu pair made all their calculations wrong, provoked the civil war in a neighbouring country and turned a blind eye to the border violations," Mr Yilmaz wrote.

"And innocent people have paid for the price of their mistakes."

Murat Yetkin, in centre-left Radikal, predicted the government would now have to take a tougher line on IS.

But, writing in secular Cumhuriyet, Orhan Bursali warned: "Turkey is sailing in dangerous waters".

IS appears to be trying to "settle old accounts in Turkey", he added.

The paper also suggested that, should the crisis escalate, the government might even use it to call an early election in the hope of boosting its votes and securing a majority in parliament.

- BBC & Reuters