At least nine people were killed and more than 100 were wounded on Saturday in an attack in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey. The Turkish authorities first blamed the Kurdish PKK movement, but the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Two police officers and five citizens, one of whom was a technician, have lost their lives. One terrorist was apprehended dead,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told journalists at a press briefing, blaming the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). This although the PKK did not claim responsibility.
However, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack through a statement released by the Jihadi Amaq Agency.
“Fighters from Islamic State blew up a parked car rigged with explosives in front of a Turkish police HQ in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey,” Amaq said.
The attack follows a call by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last Tuesday on his followers to attack Turkey.
“This is far more of a claim of a direct attack on the Turkish state. I am sure ISIS operatives did other large-scale attacks in Turkey before but they weren’t claimed officially,” Aymenn al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum said.
In the past, ISIS often did not claim responsibility for attacks inside Turkey.
“This is as far as I know an escalation in terms of claims: previously it was assassination ops they claimed,” he said.
The goal of the ISIS attack was to put more fuel on the fire in Turkey. In the past, ISIS has carried out attacks in order to disrupt the peace process between the PKK and the Turkish state.
“Taking advantage of the Turkey-Kurdish tensions: play both sides against each other. Also, heeding Baghdadi’s call to attack Turkey,” Tamimi told ARA News.
The claim by Amaq will also make the situation more confusing for people to understand who did the attack: the PKK or ISIS.
“This works to the ISIS advantage, to sow chaos,” Tamimi said. “Perceptions matter. Many people on both sides will be convinced it’s a conspiracy by the other. Both sides–Turkish govt and PKK and their respective supporters.”
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