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Ankara suicide attack: the latest in a year of devastating bombings

2015_Suruç_bombing_in_Turkey

An attack in July in Suruc, Southern Turkey, killed and injured more than 100 people.

Almost 100 people were killed this weekend in a double suicide bombing of a peace rally in the Turkish capital Ankara. It was the deadliest attack to take place in Turkey latest in a series of suicide bombings that have caused devastation across the globe this year.

At least 97 people died in the bombing on Saturday, and nearly 250 more were wounded. The rally was calling for an end to the on-going violence between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish government forces, and took place just three weeks before upcoming national elections. One eyewitness, Serdar Cil, described the bombing: “The first explosion came. Within seconds, the second one…I realised there were body parts lying in front of us. Our friends were at the spot. We were in shock. This was the worst scene I’ve ever seen.”

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack which came at a very politically sensitive time, and could further divide an already strained country, which has seen increasing violence since July.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have killed thousands of civilians in 2015. Saturday’s attack in Ankara is one of the worst attacks with explosive weapons recorded by AOAV in 2015, second only to a quadruple suicide bombing which killed and injured more than 480 people in March in Yemen.

Suicide attacks such as Saturday’s are particularly dangerous for civilians, as perpetrators can relatively easily access civilian areas and detonate explosives in areas to cause maximum destruction.

Between January and the end of August this year, AOAV recorded 10,407 civilian deaths and injuries from IED attacks globally. More than half of these (54%) were caused by suicide attacks.

Over 5,500 civilians have been killed and injured by suicide bombs in 18 different countries in the first eight months of 2015, representing a 35% dramatic increase from the same period on 2014. And while the number of incidents fell in comparison to the same period last year, the number of civilians being killed or injured in each attack has increased from 22 to 32. Perhaps the most notable aspect of suicide attacks this year has been the geographical spread of their use. Since AOAV started recording casualties of explosive weapons in 2011, four of the countries in which suicide attacks have occurred this year had hitherto not experienced a suicide bombing: Cameroon, Chad, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Tomorrow there will be a debate at Westminster on the growing use of suicide attacks. As Saturday’s terrible attack shows, such a debate is both timely and necessary. Parliament must recognise the terrible pattern of harm to civilians because of the use of all explosive weapons in populated areas. This is a critical moment for MPs to state their opposition to the use of such destructive devices in areas where civilians are concentrated, and to develop policies that will help limit and restrict the harms caused by all such weapons, including IEDs.

AOAV condemns Saturday’s bombing in Ankara. Attacks which deliberately target civilians, or are indiscriminate in their nature, are illegal. AOAV calls on states to do all in their power to undermine and restrict the availability of IED materials to prevent such future attacks, and urges all users of explosive weapons, including IEDs, to stop the use of such weapons in populated areas

To read more about AOAV’s research on IEDs and suicide attacks please click here.

For any questions or comments please e-mail Jane Hunter, Armed Violence Researcher, jhunter@aoav.org.uk.