A car bomb explosion in Ankara’s Guven Park district, home to a number of government ministries, claimed 37 lives on March 13.
A similar attack also occurred in Ankara on February 17, killing 30 people. President Recep Erdogan’s government used this first act of terrorism as a justification to continue shelling Kurdish strongholds in Syria in blatant disregard of the ceasefire announced mid-February.
The blast on Sunday came amid a string of Turkish bombardments against Kurdish forces. According to Reuters, a Russian Defense Ministry Center in Syria, charged with monitoring the United Nations ceasefire, recorded as many as ten violations from March 12 to March 13 alone. The shelling by the Turkish government against the United States-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) took place primarily in Syria’s Aleppo province.
These bombardments represent a further blow to the Kurdish independence movement, whose representatives did not receive authorization to participate in the Syria peace talks held in Geneva, CTV reports.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Turkish forces of advancing across the border into northern Syria as part of a “creeping expansion.”
“They are digging in a few hundred meters from the border inside Syria,” he added.
Since the attack last month, authorities have established curfews in the cities across the southeastern region of Turkey where the minority Kurdish population predominantly resides. This comes as part of crackdown on Kurdish resistance; the Turkish government has deployed troops to the area as a reaction to violence caused by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Russia Today reports that the Turkish governor of Hakkari Province justified the curfews as a means “to ensure the physical and material safety of citizens amid increasing incidents of terrorism.” The first Turkish operations against the Kurdish forces started in July last year, ending a two-year ceasefire.
According to BBC, the PKK claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday. As the capital’s third terror attack in six months (on March 13, February 17, and October 10), the most recent bombing will surely provoke the Turkish government to justify more draconian measures to suppress the Kurd minority.
On March 19, another suicide bomb exploded at İstiklal Avenue, a busy shopping area in Istanbul, killing at least five and injuring over thirty people. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu issued a statement confirming that several foreign nationals were among the victims.
On March 20, the Turkish government identified the suicide bomber as a member of the Islamic State (IS).
Although the PKK were not responsible for the latest attack against Turkish citizens, the government will likely continue its offensive against the Kurds both in its southeastern provinces and Syria, further fracturing the unstable coalition held together by the U.S. against the Islamic State.