Istanbul nightclub attack caps off dreadful year for Turkey

Simon Tisdall writes: The New Year’s Eve attack on an Istanbul nightclub concluded a dreadful year for Turkey, during which the country was shaken by a failed military coup, a policy setback in neighbouring Syria and a string of terrorist atrocities.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Saturday night’s attack, but suspicion will fall on Islamic State. The group repeatedly struck at Turkish cities in 2016 in retaliation for Ankara’s support for international efforts to suppress its activities in Syria and Iraq.

Given recent history, an extremist Kurdish nationalist group known as the Freedom Falcons, or TAK, could also be in the frame for the attack. It claimed responsibility for bomb explosions outside a football stadium in Istanbul that killed 45 people in December, and a car bomb attack in Adana the previous month.

The TAK, a breakaway faction of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), says it is responding to a harsh crackdown by the army and police in Kurdish areas of south-eastern Turkey. The crackdown, which displaced thousands of civilians, followed the collapse in 2015 of a ceasefire between the PKK and the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president. [Continue reading…]

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