Turkey

Explosive violence trends and patterns in Turkey (2011-2019)

  • Between 2011-2019 Turkey has seen 5,264 deaths and injuries from explosive violence
  • Of these, 67% (3,545) 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 casualty levels more than doubling
  • 88% of civilian deaths and injuries were caused by IEDs over this period
  • 45% of civilian deaths and injuries were caused by suicide attacks
  • 2016 was the worst year for civilian deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Turkey with 51% of all civilian deaths and injuries between 2011-2019 occurring in this year

Review
Over the past nine 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 (9), 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 second most destructive single incident of explosive violence recorded by AOAV globally between 2011 and 2015, 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 it 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 explosive. 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 nine-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, such hopes were short lived. 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 countries by explosive violence.

Between 2011 and 2019, AOAV recorded 5,264 deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Turkey, of which 3,545 (67%) have been 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 nine-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 an untold burden on the country’s population. This is something AOAV have looked to explore further in their recent report on the impact of explosive weapons on children in Turkey. Although the civilian harm wrought in 2016 has not been replicated in recent years, rises in the number of civilian deaths and injuries in Turkey recorded in 2019 do create concern the future.

AOAV reports on explosive violence in Turkey include: 

The impact of explosive weapons on children in Turkey

The latest on explosive violence in Turkey