World Bulletin / News Desk
Four commanders have been removed from their positions after a deadly arsenal blast last week that left 25 soldiers dead, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference at Esenboğa Airport in Ankara before his flight to Azerbaijan for a meeting of the Turkey-Azerbaijan High Level Strategic Cooperation Council, Erdoğan also criticized Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu over his recent allegations that during private meetings with various military officers, Kılıçdaroğlu was informed that a majority of the higher-ranking military personnel believes that last week's ammunition depot explosion in Afyonkarahisar was most likely a result of sabotage. Erdoğan said that the military will take legal action over the remarks.
“The military believes that there is a 99 percent likelihood that the blast was caused by sabotage,” the CHP leader said in an interview with the Güneş daily on Monday.
“The commanders talked about a mechanism that is activated when it is manipulated from outside. We need to look at this, though without excluding that 1 percent possibility [of the cause not being sabotage],” Kılıçdaroğlu further stated.
A total of 25 soldiers were killed in the huge explosion and subsequent fire at an ammunition depot in the western province of Afyonkarahisar last week. The explosion sent shockwaves across the country with its high death toll. Both military and civilian authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion, while initial reports have said the blast was due to the mishandling of hand grenades by officers who were classifying them.
Erdoğan also responded to criticism directed against Afyonkarahisar Governor İrfan Balkanlıoğlu, who welcomed Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel after the blast and gave him some souvenirs from Afyonkarahisar, posing with the military chief for photographers while smiling and presenting him with the gifts. Although it is normal that the two came together, Erdoğan said, it is not quite right to present gifts on such a day and to post the photographs on the website of the governor's office.