29 Jun 2016

Istanbul attack latest in long list of terror

6:19 pm on 29 June 2016

Today's triple suicide bombing at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport is the sixth deadly bomb attack in Turkey's two largest cities in the past year.

Police officers and rescuers inspect the site of a bomb attack that targeted a police bus in the Vezneciler district of Istanbul on 7 June 2016.

The site of a bomb attack that targeted a police bus in central Istanbul on 7 June. Photo: AFP

Many of the attacks have been carried out, or are suspected to have been carried out, by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant group with Marxist-Leninist roots founded in the late 1970s. Its aim is to establish an independent state for Kurdish people within Turkey.

Regarded as a terrorist organisation by NATO, the US and the EU, the PKK began a campaign of war against the Turkish state in 1984 - and has carried out many bombings since. Although the PKK later rolled back its demands, instead calling for more autonomy for Kurds living in Turkey, the government has always refused to negotiate with it, citing its terrorist status.

It has also split into factions, including the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), responsible for several bomb blasts in Istanbul and Turkish Mediterranean resorts, and Pejak, which has carried out attacks against Iran.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has been blamed for other attacks, including today's. The group has been at the forefront of global terror consciousness since capturing large areas of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and declaring a self-styled caliphate. Some of the territory it controls lies on Syria's border with Turkey, which has been the scene of relentless attacks by IS militants and has seen thousands of refugees fleeing into the neighbouring country.

While the PKK and its splinter groups have tended to target police, the military and government buildings, IS has been more likely to go after areas populated by Westerners.

Turkey's timeline of recent terror attacks:

  • 7 June: A car bomb exploded in central Istanbul, killing 11 people. Militant group TAK claimed responsibility, saying the attack was revenge for Turkish army operations in the south-east.
  • 19 March: A suicide bomb attack at a busy shopping area in Istanbul killed four people, three of them foreign nationals. Another 36 were injured in the blast near a government building. No one claimed responsibility.
  • 13 March: A car bomb exploded in Ankara, killing 34 people and wounding 125. The explosion occurred in a key transport hub and commercial area of the city, reducing several vehicles, including a bus, to burnt-out wrecks. The PKK was blamed for the attack.
  • 17 February: A car bomb detonated as military buses passed by in Ankara, killing 28 people and injuring 61. The TAK claimed responsibility for the bombing, which happened in an area close to parliament and Turkey's military headquarters.
  • 10 January: A suspected member of IS killed 10 people, nine of them German tourists, in a suicide bomb attack near Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque and Hagla Sophia.
  • 11 October 2015: two explosions at a peace rally outside Ankara's central railway station killed 103 people and injured at least 400. The attacks were the deadliest in modern Turkish history. No one claimed responsibility but the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), as well as the PKK and IS were all suspected.
  • Today's attack was also the second act of terrorism to be carried out at an international airport this year.

    In March, suicide bombers killed 32 people in separate attacks at Brussels' international airport and a city metro station. IS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

    - RNZ / Reuters / BBC

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