11 October 2015, NYT: Explosions During Peace Rally in Ankara, Turkey's Capital, Kill Scores
30 July 2015, NYT: Turkey Escalates Airstrikes on Kurdish Targets in Northern Iraq
OCT. 11, 2015
Ankara Bombings Prompt Rally Against Turkish Government
By TIM ARANGO and CEYLAN YEGINSU
ISTANBUL -- A day after the worst terrorist attack in Turkey's modern history left nearly 100 people dead, thousands of mourners gathered on Sunday in central Ankara, the Turkish capital, to lay carnations and rail against the government.
The gathering -- mostly of Kurds, who were the main victims of the two devastating explosions that struck a peace rally  Saturday -- waved flags and vented their anger at the Turkish state, which they held responsible for the carnage.
"Murderer Erdogan!" was one chant, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Murderer police" and "Murderer state" were others.
"We met today to call for peace and mourn for our friends, but we are also demanding answers," said Ekim Ertas, a Kurdish activist who attended the peace rally on Saturday and spoke of the anger that had been building over months as several Kurdish gatherings were attacked. "There have been three similar attacks against Kurds in four months, and nobody has been held to account. We demand answers. We want to know why the government keeps allowing these attacks against the Kurds to happen."
No group has claimed responsibility for the twin bombings, which officials said had most likely been carried out by suicide bombers. But the government conducted operations on Sunday against what officials said were two possible culprits: the Sunni militants of the Islamic State and the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or P.K.K.
According to accounts in the Turkish news media, the government detained several people it suspected of being members of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in the central Anatolian city of Konya and the coastal city of Antalya. It was not clear if the arrests were related to Saturday's attack.
According to a statement published online, the Turkish military also carried out bombing raids in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq against the P.K.K., a militant group that was at war with Turkey for nearly three decades but had, until recently, been in peace talks with the government.
The P.K.K. had announced, in the hours after the attacks in Ankara on Saturday, a unilateral cease-fire in which it pledged to halt offensive attacks in advance of parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 1. That the Turkish state kept up its campaign suggested that the cease-fire was unlikely to lead to lasting calm.
The official toll in Saturday's bombings stood at 95 dead, but Kurdish officials said it was higher. Speaking on top of a bus at the rally in Ankara on Sunday, Selahattin Demirtas,  the leader of the Kurdish-dominated Peoples' Democratic Party, said that 128 people had been killed. Mr. Demirtas had accused the government on Saturday of being behind the attack, and on Sunday, he vowed not to seek revenge but to win at the polls.
"We won't seek revenge," he said. "Violence will breed more violence. We'll seek justice in the election on Nov. 1."
He continued: "Shared life is possible among the oppressed and the abused. We will not surrender to a bunch of scoundrels."
The attack increased tensions in Turkey amid growing instability and just as the country was preparing to hold a snap election in three weeks. National elections in June dealt a blow to Mr. Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, which lost its majority  in Parliament for the first time since 2002. After weeks of coalition talks proved fruitless, Mr. Erdogan ordered  another election.
"There are very big questions about whether the Nov. 1 elections will be able to happen, and if they do take place, will they be free and fair?" said Kerem Oktem, a professor of southeast Europe and modern Turkey at the University of Graz in Austria, and the author of "Angry Nation: Turkey Since 1989."
As political instability deepened after the elections in June, so did violence. A two-year peace process between the Turkish state and the P.K.K. collapsed, as the militants increased their attacks and Mr. Erdogan ordered the military to resume bombing  the group.
Turkey renewed its war with the P.K.K. just after it reached an agreement with the United States that allowed the American-led coalition bombing Islamic State militants to use Turkish air bases, suggesting to many that Turkey's priority was restraining Kurdish ambitions for autonomy rather than fighting the Islamic State.
The performance of the Peoples' Democratic Party, or H.D.P., in the June election -- for the first time, it met a 10 percent threshold to enter Parliament -- denied Mr. Erdogan a majority. A crackdown on the civilian side of the Kurdish movement followed, with arrests and statements by officials trying to link Mr. Demirtas and other Kurdish officials to P.K.K. violence.
Mr. Oktem said he was not exactly surprised by the rising violence against the Kurds -- there was a bombing in the southeastern town of Suruc in July that killed more than 30 Kurdish activists, as well as an attack on a Kurdish political rally in Diyarbakir -- given the polarizing rhetoric from Turkish leaders, who "attacked the H.D.P. and dehumanized its leaders."
Mr. Oktem referred to periods of deep instability in Turkey's past -- the 1970s, when political violence nearly tore the country apart, and the 1990s, the height of the war against Kurdish rebels -- and said that each time, it had been determined later that some of the violence had been the work of the so-called deep state, a shadowy network of groups with links to the government.