Turkey

AOAV’s monitoring project, launched in October 2010, uses English-language media reports to capture information on who has been killed and injured by incidents of explosive violence.  We have over 10 years of explosive violence data recorded and analysed. This data below focuses on Turkey.

  • Turkey has been the tenth worst-affected state by explosive violence over the past decade
  • From 2011-2020, AOAV recorded 5,349 deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Turkey – of these, 3,570 (67%) were civilians
  • Between 2014 and 2015, Turkey saw a 7,682% rise in civilian casualties from explosive violence. In 2016 the increase continued, with civilian deaths and injuries more than doubling
  • IEDs caused, by far, the most harm in this period, with 88% of all civilian casualties resulting from this type of explosive
  • 2016 was, by far, the worst year in this period for civilian casualties in Turkey, with AOAV recording 1,825 deaths and injuries from explosive violence

Review

Over the past ten years, the levels of explosive violence in Turkey have fluctuated enormously, reflecting a constantly changing and highly volatile political and security situation. In the first two years of AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor Turkey witnessed relatively low levels of explosive harm. Although both the 2011 and 2012 Monitor recorded 27 incidents of explosive violence in each year respectively, these incidents did not result in high civilian casualties. As a result, Turkey was not ranked amongst AOAV’s fifteen worst-affected countries by explosive violence in 2011 or 2012.

This changed in 2013 when AOAV, although recording a large fall in the number of incidents of explosive violence, recorded an increase in civilian casualties in Turkey. Over the course of that year, by monitoring English-language media outlets, AOAV recorded 241 civilian deaths and injuries, meaning Turkey was cited as the eleventh worst-affected country by explosive violence in the 2013 Monitor. However, the following year AOAV identified a drastic fall in the levels of explosive violence in the country, recording six incidents and eleven civilian casualties.

Unfortunately, the lower levels of explosive harm seen in 2014 did not last. In 2015, AOAV documented a 7682% increase in the number of civilian deaths and injuries caused by explosive violence in Turkey. This extreme rise was predominantly the result of a single, devastating incident of explosive violence which occurred when ISIS launched simultaneous suicide attacks on a peace rally in Ankara. This attack was the fifth most-destructive single incident of explosive violence recorded by AOAV globally in the past decade, and the 602 civilians killed or injured by these blasts accounted for a large percentage of the 856 total civilian casualties recorded in Turkey that year. This being said, smaller-scale ISIS suicide bombings and an escalation in the conflict between the central government and Kurdish nationalist groups also brought about high levels of civilian harm and growing insecurity within the country. As a result of the large rise in civilian casualties, precipitated in part by the Ankara attack, the 2015 Explosive Violence Monitor cited Turkey as the eighth worst-affected country by explosive violence, and the country fourth worst-affected by suicide attacks that year.  

In 2016, the security situation in Turkey deteriorated further. AOAV recorded a 113% rise in the number of civilian casualties from the previous year, meaning the 2016 Explosive Violence Monitor cited Turkey as the country fifth worst-affected by explosives – the first, and only time the country has appeared in the top five. Once again, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties, with 94% of the 1,825 civilian deaths and injuries recorded by AOAV in 2016 attributable to this type of weapon. As had been the case in 2015, the majority of civilian casualties were the result of a small number of highly lethal, orchestrated attacks, with AOAV accounting 54% of all civilian deaths and injuries in Turkey resulting from only six incidents of explosive violence. Although no incident was as lethal as the 2015 Ankara bombing, several attacks, such as the triple suicide bombing at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, led to civilian casualties in the hundreds. 2016 remains, by far, the worst year for explosive violence in Turkey over the ten-year course of AOAV’s Monitor. That year, civilian casualties accounted for more than half (51%) of those recorded in the entire history of the monitor.

Following the extreme levels of explosive violence recorded in Turkey in 2015 and, to a greater extent, 2016, the next two years saw a steady improvement in the country’s security situation. Although the 32 incidents of explosive violence recorded by AOAV in 2017 and the 26 incidents in 2018 did not represent an environment of total security in the country, it did reflect a large improvement from the levels recorded in previous years. Furthermore, the fact that Turkey did not appear in AOAV’s list of the fifteen most explosive-affected states in either 2017 or 2018, suggested that conditions might be improving in the country. However, the following year, despite a global decrease in the levels of explosive harm, AOAV recorded a rise in civilian casualties in Turkey. The 200 deaths and injuries amongst civilians recorded by AOAV meant that the 2019 Monitor once again cited Turkey amongst the fifteen worst-affected states by explosive violence.

In 2020, AOAV recorded a stark 88% fall in civilian casualties from the previous year, recording only 10 incidents of explosive violence and 25 civilian casualties. This figure was the second-lowest level of civilian harm recorded in Turkey in the past decade and could mark the beginning of a positive trend for levels of violence in the country. This being said, Turkey continues to face a number of threats from Islamic State actors and the PKK, meaning explosive violence remains a constant threat.

Between 2011 and 2020, AOAV recorded 5,349 deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Turkey, of which 3,570 (67%) were civilians. Over this period, IEDs caused by far the greatest amount of civilian harm, accounting for 88% of all deaths and injuries documented. Turkey has also been particularly badly affected by suicide attacks, which have caused 45% of all civilian casualties in the ten-year history of the AOAV Monitor. The majority of civilian harm experienced in Turkey took place in 2015 and 2016, where severe levels of explosive violence brought about an untold burden on the country’s population. This is something AOAV have looked to explore in greater detail in their recent report on the impact of explosive weapons on children in Turkey.

The latest on explosive violence in Turkey