ISTANBUL — Responding to growing anger over the government’s failure to prevent the terrorist attack last week that killed nearly 100 people, Turkey’s Interior Ministry fired several security officials on Wednesday, including the police chief in Ankara, the capital, where the attack occurred.
Experts, though, said it was unlikely, even implausible, that the P.K.K., as the Kurdish party is known, was involved, given that the target of the attack was a peace rally organized in part by Kurds, a minority in Turkey whose rights the group has championed for more than three decades. In addition, the Islamic State has been fighting the P.K.K. in Syria and Iraq, making it more likely that Islamic State militants would target a gathering of Kurds within Turkey.
“Both can be defined as terrorist organizations,” said Metin Gurcan, a security analyst and former member of the Turkish special forces. “But you can’t put them in the same package, because the P.K.K. has been targeting the Turkish state, while the Islamic State has been targeting the public.”
Many Kurds lay the blame not on terrorist groups but at the feet of their own government for failing to protect them, and thousands gathered in central Ankara on Sunday to vent their anger at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “If government officials had attended this event, this wouldn’t have happened,” Ayse Bayrak, 31, an activist who was at the rally in Ankara, said on Wednesday. “The police are usually highly vigilant at rallies, searching bags and people, but on Saturday, they just stood there.”
Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the Kurdish-dominated Peoples’ Democratic Party, has gone further, accusing the government itself of being behind the attack. No group has claimed responsibility.
In elections in June, the governing Justice and Development Party, for the first time in more than a decade, lost its majority in Parliament. Soon, a two-year peace process between the state and the P.K.K. collapsed, and fighting resumed. The government’s continued effort to link the group to the attack is likely to further critics’ argument that the Justice and Development Party has been using the renewed war against the P.K.K. as part of a political strategy to attract nationalist voters and reclaim its parliamentary majority in a snap election Nov. 1.
Mr. Davutoglu said on Wednesday: “We will continue our investigation to exhaust all the organizational ties. Regardless of who did this, through what links, we will identify those who carried out this vile attack and deliver them to justice.”
Separately, the Turkish police said Wednesday that they had detained two people who had posted messages on Twitter before the attack about a potential bombing in Ankara, local news outlets reported. The two suspects, according to the report, were said to have ties to the P.K.K., which the United States and Europe list as a terrorist organization.
At a news conference late Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan acknowledged security failures, breaking days of public silence except for a brief statement after the bombings. “There must undoubtedly be a mistake, a shortcoming in some place,” he said. “Of what dimension? This will emerge after investigations.”
If the Islamic State is found to have been behind the attack, it is likely to heighten longstanding criticism that Turkey has not done enough to confront the threat from the group. Turkey’s military and intelligence apparatus has decades of experience fighting the P.K.K., but until recently, it had not seemed to face up to the danger posed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“The security apparatus in Turkey has not been given the priority to fight against the Islamic State in a material and legal sense,” Mr. Gurcan said.
Rather than uniting the country in the face of terrorism, the attack has only amplified the rancor of a deeply polarized society. As political factions vie for advantage ahead of the election and violence flares, the environment has become so toxic that not even an important soccer match could afford a moment of solemnity. Before Turkey’s national team took on Iceland on Tuesday evening, a moment of silence for the victims was marred by booing and hissing.
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