World Bulletin/News Desk
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the Prime Ministry Inspection Board will launch an investigation to find out if there was negligence by any state organization or official in failing to prevent twin car bombs that killed 51 people and injured dozens more in Hatay's Reyhanlı district on Saturday.
However, opposition parties continued to put the blame for the attack on the government's policy on Syria, arguing that the government's active support of the opposition had put the country's security at risk.
“The Prime Ministry Inspection Board will focus on finding out if there was negligence [in preventing the attack] and if any, who is responsible for the negligence. The board will carry out an investigation,” said the prime minister on Tuesday when addressing his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputies during a parliamentary group meeting.
According to the prime minister, the death toll in the attack rose to 51, with three of them being Syrian refugees.
“The remains of 39 victims were given to their families. And they were buried. Efforts are ongoing to identify the remaining victims. Currently, there are 48 injured receiving treatment at hospitals. Forty-one of them are Turkish and seven are Syrian,” he said and added that 17 of the injured are in critical condition.
Erdoğan further stated that 452 business places, 293 houses, 62 vehicles and 11 public buildings were damaged in the bombings. The state sent TL 7.5 million to the Hatay Governor's Office to heal the public's material losses. Tax payments of artisans in Hatay will be cancelled for one year, according to the prime minister.
Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu held the prime minister responsible for the deaths of 51 people in Reyhanlı and claimed that he loves his country and people less than the US because he is scheduled to pay an official visit to the US before visiting Hatay. “You [the prime minister] don't like your country. You are a sub-contractor working in the Middle East on behalf of Western powers,” he claimed.
Erdoğan is due to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington on May 16. He said he would visit Hatay after he returns from his US trip.
Kılıçdaroğlu also recalled that he paid a visit to Reyhanlı on Monday and that he saw the town “in ruins.” “We have no problems with refugees coming from Syria. Turkey is a big state. It should not leave any individual homeless or without food. But we will not tolerate anyone coming to our country and living in tents or hiring houses and then producing a bomb. The region is so open to terror,” he said, implying that Syrian refugees may have assisted the terrorists who carried out the Reyhanlı bombings.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman Devlet Bahçeli strongly condemned the Reyhanlı bombings, which he said was the most vicious and bloodiest attack in recent years. He put the blame for the attack on the AK Party government and the prime minister, saying the government's Syria policy led to the tragedy in Reyhanlı.
“The government's Syria policy has collapsed,” Bahçeli said, adding: “The Assad regime, which kills its own people, has begun sending waves of instability to Turkey. It is clearly seen that the Syria issue has become too complicated to get out of it.” Bahçeli also added that the opposition forces in Syria might have had a hand in the deadly attack.
The MHP leader also called on Prime Minister Erdoğan to resign. “I am asking the prime minister if his heart was not touched by the deaths of little babies [in Reyhanlı]? I hope he will return from his US visit having resigned from the prime ministry,” he said.
Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş said the government's “hawkish policy” against the Syrian administration is the main cause for today's sufferings in Reyhanlı.
“We previously had warned the government that its love for war [against Syria] would make Turkey pay a heavy price. We had said the bombs exploding in Damascus would explode in Turkey, too,” Demirtaş said, and added the Turkish government of supporting “gangs” against the Syrian regime. “Did the government not calculate that its support for the gangs would result in a heavy cost to the country?” he asked.
The BDP chairman also voiced criticism of a broadcasting ban on Reyhanlı victim stories. He said people do not have sound information about the number of victims nor the material loss due to the ban.
On Saturday a local court imposed a one-week ban on images appearing in the media of victims killed or wounded by the twin bomb attacks in Reyhanlı.
The Reyhanlı 2nd Court of First Instance announced that a broadcasting ban had been imposed on the deadly attack. In accordance with the ban, TV stations, newspapers and Internet broadcasters will not be allowed to show or report on images of the victims. The Reyhanlı Chief Public Prosecutor's Office requested the ban. Once the seven-day period is over, the court will reconvene to decide whether to lift or extend the ban.Last Mod: 15 Mayıs 2013, 09:29