Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced that two terrorists were killed and two police officers were slightly wounded in a terrorist attack targeting his Ministry in Ankara on October 1. He said that two terrorists in a light commercial vehicle came in front of the entrance gate of the General Directorate of Security of the Ministry of Interior at around 09.30 and launched the attack with long-barreled rifles and explosives. “One of the terrorists detonated himself and the other terrorist was neutralized,” the minister said. Two police officers were reportedly slightly wounded in the shooting. “Our struggle will continue relentlessly until the last terrorist is neutralized,” the minister said.
The attack came hours before Parliament was due to start the new legislative year with President Tayyip Erdoğan’s opening speech. The Interior Ministry and the Parliament are on opposite sides of İnönü Boulevard in Kızılay, central Ankara. Opening the session at 2:00 p.m. under heavy security measures, Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş said it was clear that the terrorist act, which took place “a few hundred meters” from the Parliament building, was targeting not only the Ministry but Türkiye. He added that the fight against terrorism would not be abandoned. President Erdoğan, in his speech opening the legislative year, said the act was the “last efforts of terrorism” and signaled a new military operation into Syria and Iraq.
Turkish jets hit as PKK claimed responsibility
In the evening, news spread that the terrorist act was claimed on behalf of the “Immortals Battalion”, a shadow organization affiliated with the HPG, the armed force of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The description used in the claim of responsibility as a “fedayeen action” indicates that the terrorist act was planned as a suicide attack. The name of the shadow organization was first heard in a suicide attack on a police station in Kayseri in 2012, killing four people. Later in the day, the Interior Ministry announced that one of the attackers killed had been identified as a member of the PKK, without giving a name.
The Interior Ministry also reported that the following weapons and explosives were found with the two terrorists:
– 9700 g of C-4 explosive material containing RDX,
– 3 hand grenades,
– 1 rocket launcher,
– 1 M-4 Carbine long-barreled weapon,
– 1 AK-47 Kalashnikov long-barreled weapon
– 1 Glock pistol with silencer
– 1 Blow brand air gun.
Following these developments, the Ministry of National Defense announced that 20 PKK targets in northern Iraq were hit by Turkish warplanes, at around 21.00.
Terrorist action and questions
According to Internal Ministry sources, the attack was carried out as follows:
The two militants first killed 24-year-old Mikail Bozlağan, a veterinarian in Kayseri’s Develi district, south-central Anatolia, and stole his gray minivan with license plate 38 TP 963 which later they used in the attack. According to unconfirmed information due to the ongoing investigation, they then picked up weapons and explosives in Adana and set off for Ankara. At 9.26 in the morning, they carried out the terrorist act.
Official sources believe that with this action the PKK wanted to send a message to Turkish public opinion and its militancy base that it was not affected by the cross-border operations, that it was not devastated but still can perform shocking actions in the middle of Ankara. Aiming an independent Kurdish state carved out of Türkiye, Iran, Iraq and Syria the PKK has been waging an armed campaign since more than 40 years, claiming tens and thousands of lives so far. Despite enlisting the PKK as a terrorist organization, the US provides arms, military training and money to the PKK’s Syria branch organization to use them against ISIS, which has been a major tension between has been a major problem between the two NATO partners since 2014. The ongoing PKK activitiers in Sweden is the main objection of Türkiye in approving its NATO membership for which Stockholm has applied in the wake of Russia’s War in Ukraine.
As the shock of the action wore off, questions began to arise. How could two militants commit a murder, steal a car, load it with weapons and explosives, and then drive 500 kilometers to the center of Ankara when the government says the PKK’s activities inside Türkiye are completely under control? Was it a sign of intelligence weakness that this action could be carried out on a day that requires special precautions, such as October 1, when the president, ministers, MPs from all parties, and representatives of foreign countries and organizations in Ankara would be in Parliament?
President Erdoğan defended Yerlikaya and said he had done his duty properly when asked by journalists in the Parliament.