1. What is a Service Bus?
Several Military service buses were hit by a car bomb. A service bus (or multiple buses) is offered by an employer to transport employees back and forth to work. Service buses are common in Turkey, used by a variety of employers such as the government, universities, and large corporations, etc. The use of buses cuts down on traffic, saves on resources such as gasoline, and provides access for those who don’t have vehicles. These buses come in many shapes and sizes, smaller ones looking like the 14-person dolmuş, older ones like American-style school buses, and newer ones that are large and quite fancy. One thing that I have always found interesting is that all of these have a sign on the back of the bus that reads “okul tasiti” or “school bus” even though they are not. Most of the time, there are a number of buses for one institution. In this case, there were numerous buses that left a nearby parking lot one of after the other. Hence, some of the news channels were using the term “convoy” of buses. This is typical behavior. It is also noteworthy that initial reports claimed a lojman was hit. It was not. A lojman is housing for employees, whether military, institutions, companies, etc. Some of the buses were likely headed towards military housing.
2. The Buses Also Carried Civil Servants.
These particular buses were used to carry any personnel that worked for the military at a particular location. The deceased, therefore, include both military personnel and non-military, men and women. 28 people were killed and at least 61 were injured. The list of names of the deceased, mostly young people, has been released. The names of the victims and some photos can be viewed on the following websites:
- http://www.todayszaman.com/national_stories-of-ankara-bomb-attack-victims-deepen-nations-grief_412697.html (English language story about some of the victims.)
3. The Car Bomb was Allegedly a Stolen Rental Car.
News reports indicate that the car was rented from a location in Izmir, the 3rd largest city in Turkey. A “license plate recognition system determined that the car was brought to Istanbul on Dec. 12.” A “counterfeit license plate was put on the missing vehicle by an Istanbul-based organized crime network, and the car was later sold illegally to an unidentified person online before being sent to the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.” I have not seen any information as to how they were able to identify the car or the driver and I doubt anything was left after such a huge explosion. The reports indicate that the vehicle was used by a Syrian national as a car bomb in Ankara on February 17th. The name of the national and more information can be found here, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/car-used-in-ankara-blast-stolen-from-rental-firm-in-izmir-reports.aspx?PageID=238&NID=95386&NewsCatID=509. I refuse to glorify him by publishing his name on my blog.
4. Following the Attack, Turkey Initiated a Media Blackout.
As has become the norm here, unfortunately, the Turkish government initiated a media blackout shortly after the attack. While the media continued to report, they basically had limited new information or images. This “temporary” censorship also affected Facebook and Twitter both of which slowed almost to a screeching halt. The official reasoning for the media ban was due to “security,” allowing the authorities to conduct investigation. However, theories float about why the government would enforce such control instead of letting the information flow freely. Such theories online include: not wanting Turkish citizens to see images that may be engraved in their minds, affecting the next elections; not wanting the world to see what is truly happening here (the government saving face); giving the government time to “create” a story of what happened; and, allowing the government time to blame it on the YPG, an organization Turkey sees as terrorist but much of the world does not. Media outlets have recently been charged with spreading terrorist propaganda. Journalists have been fired, investigated, indicted and imprisoned.
5. Turkey Claims YPG is Responsible.
Initial reports suggested that the bombing was likely carried out by ISIL or the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party). However, Turkey has since named the YPG as the perpetrators. The YPG, People’s Protection Units or People’s Defense Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel), is primarily Kurdish, but it also recruits Arabs, Turks, and westerners. The YPG was formed by Kurdish youth in 2004 and is viewed as an affiliate of the PKK . There has been much debate over the YPG recently as Turkey considers them a terrorist organization, but to date, the U.S. and many other countries do not. According to one report, “The U.S. already lists the PKK as a terrorist group. But in the complicated tangle of friends and foes in the Middle East, Washington relies heavily on the Syrian Democratic Union Party, or PYD, and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in fighting extremists from the Islamic State group.” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11591916. Both the YPG and PKK have denied responsibility for the attack. It’s important to note for you that are not familiar, that ALL KURDS ARE NOT TERRORISTS.