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Officials: Ankara Bombing Originally Targeted Kurd-Friendly Opposition Party Headquarters

Turkish state-run media outlet Anadolu Agency is reporting that police have evidence the original target of the bombing of a Kurdish peace rally in Ankara on October 10 was the headquarters of the Kurd-friendly People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Anadolu reports that the group of terrorists organizing the twin suicide bombings had initially planned to bomb the HDP’s Ankara headquarters before learning that leftist Kurdish youth groups were organizing a peace rally that weekend. Deciding that this would be a richer target to maximize damage, the group changed its plans, according to “terror and intelligence experts.” Anadolu also claimed that suspects arrested in relation to the attack claimed they were planning to personally attack HDP Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ, using hand grenades.

The twin suicide bombings killed 102 people on October 10, making the incident the deadliest terror attack in post-Ottoman Turkish history.

The two suicide bombers have been identified as Yunus Emre Alagoz and Omer Deniz Dundar, both with ties to the Islamic State. Alagoz was identified as the brother of the attacker responsible for the bombing of a meeting of Kurdish youth in Suruç, on the Syrian border. The brothers were known to run an “Islamic Tea House” that functioned as an ISIS hangout, reports indicate.

Despite evidence that the Islamic State was behind the attacks, two men affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist terrorist group currently fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, have been arrested. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has publicly claimed that the PKK, ISIS, and representatives of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad organized the attack together, despite being sworn enemy factions. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made a similar claim, calling the Ankara bombing “a completely collective act of terror” planned by “ISIS (Islamic State), PKK, the mukhabarat, and the terrorist group PYD from north of Syria.” The PYD is the Syrian Kurdish militia currently fighting ISIS. The mukhabarat is the Syrian secret police.

In addition to these statements, pro-government media have been publishing theories as to how the Ankara bombing plot came about. Takvim, a pro-government newspaper, reported on Thursday that the bombing was secretly planned in Germany “to keep the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) strong” in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The article cites “an American friend” who “prepared a file” on the HDP for the newspaper.

HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş has openly blamed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the bombing:

“There is nobody who has been designated as ‘responsible’ around. There is no effective investigation. There will be none regarding today’s attack either. This is not an attack against unity of our state and nation. This is an attack by our nation against our people,” he said in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

“Until this day, no perpetrator has been revealed. They are able to arrest somebody just because he tweeted. They are able to arrest somebody just upon an order by the palace,” Demirtaş said of Erdogan.

Before the Ankara bombing, Demirtaş had claimed that there had been at least 400 attacks on HDP members, local offices, and headquarters between September 7 and September 9.

In response to his accusations, Davutoglu has called Demirtaş a murderer, using the language heard at anti-government rallies, where “murderer state” and “murderer Erdogan” became common chants. “Fifty of our citizens lost their lives in those incidents, but now he shouts ‘murderer state’ at rallies, when the funerals of the Ankara bombing victims are still being held one after the other. If he wants to see a murderer, he should look in the mirror,” Davutoğlu said.

A new poll shows that, despite evidence tying the Ankara bombers to the Islamic State, only one fourth–24.9 percent–of Turks believe the terrorist group orchestrated the attack. Almost 28 percent–27.8–believe the PKK orchestrated the attack, while 21 percent believe Erdogan himself planned it, which demonstrates that the nation has not reached a consensus on whom to blame.

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