A suicide bombing near Turkey’s parliament in Ankara on Sunday that left two police officers injured has exposed an internal power struggle within Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the attack, prompting Turkish jets to retaliate by striking PKK bases in Iraq.
On Sunday two attackers arrived in a commercial vehicle and detonated explosives near the Turkish parliament. The Interior Ministry labeled the incident a “terrorist attack.” One attacker detonated himself, while the other was “neutralized.”
The attack has raised questions about intelligence shortcomings. The vehicle used in the attack was stolen from a veterinarian in central Kayseri province. Despite this, the attackers managed to reach Ankara without setting off any alarms in Turkish law enforcement’s plate identification system. According to a report by Deutsche Welle’s Turkish edition, investigators are looking into whether the attackers had conducted reconnaissance at the site of the attack beforehand.
Turkish pundits are questioning whether the shortcomings in preventing the attack were due to incompetence on the part of newly appointed Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya or possible sabotage by police officers loyal to former interior minister Süleyman Soylu.
Following the attack, social media accounts run by people believed to be close to Soylu have targeted Yerlikaya.
These accounts accused Yerlikaya of neglecting terrorist threats while focusing on purging bureaucrats who had worked under Soylu. One anonymous account even suggested that Yerlikaya’s alleged negligence enabled the attack. The messages were later deleted.
In the wake of criticism from pro-Soylu accounts, Yerlikaya was visited by key political figures rumored to be at odds with Soylu. These include former interior ministers Efkan Ala and Selami Altınok as well as former parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop. Yerlikaya announced these visits on social media, further fueling speculation about internal AKP dynamics.
After Soylu left his post as interior minister, his alleged involvement in international drug trafficking and ties to mafia groups have once again become the subject of debate. His removal from office led to significant changes in the Turkish police force and a crackdown on an international cocaine ring. The arrest of Ayhan Bora Kaplan, a mob boss with alleged ties to Soylu, has intensified speculation about an internal struggle within the AKP.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into the attack. At the request of the prosecutors, a local court restricted access to news related to the attack. Ankara police are conducting “controlled explosions” of suspicious packages to prevent further incidents, according to local media.