The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for massive car bombing in the city of Diyarbakir, which is in southeastern Turkey. Citing the government-run Anadolu Agency, the Associated Press reported that at least nine people (two policemen and seven civilians) were killed and upwards of 100 more were wounded. The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency claimed the blast hours after it rocked the city.
Citing a “security source,” Amaq claimed: “Fighters from the Islamic State set off a car bomb parked in front of the headquarters of the Turkish police in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey.”
Turkish authorities quickly blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a US-designated terrorist organization. It is possible the PKK did carry out the attack. But if the Islamic State’s claim is accurate, then the so-called caliphate’s men carried it out just two days after Abu Bakr al Baghdadi called for attacks inside Turkey.
On Nov. 2, the Islamic State released the first audio message from Baghdadi in nearly one year. Baghdadi spent part of his address blasting the “apostate Turkey” for showing its true “face” by striking inside the lands of the caliphate. The Islamic State’s emir said that the Turkish government thinks it can safely “descend” onto the “battlefields of the sons of monotheism and the lions of jihad,” but they are not truly secure. Baghdadi called on his loyalists to bring Turkey into their “conflict,” while also fighting those Turkish soldiers who have come to them in the Levant. He likened “infidel” Turkish soldiers to dogs.
Earlier this year, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield, which has successfully claimed territory from the Islamic State in northern Syria. In his audio address, Baghdadi argued that Turkey has taken advantage of the fact that his men have been distracted by the “war against the infidel nations” and have been forced to defend their territory.
In the past, the Islamic State has been deliberately ambiguous about high-profile terrorist attacks inside Turkey. For example, it is widely suspected that the group was responsible for the suicide bombings and shootings at the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul in late June. Forty-five people were killed and more than 200 others were wounded.
But the Islamic State never claimed responsibility for the high-profile assault in Istanbul. By contrast, Amaq issued a statement regarding the car bombing in Diyarbakir just hours after the fact. As opposed to Istanbul, Diyarbakir is a major city in the part of the country that is predominately Kurdish. And the Islamic State has been fighting Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria for years.
Still, Baghdadi’s call for operations inside Turkey was clear. And his men claim to have followed through on his threat by attacking Turkish police.