Probe launched into Afyonkarahisar explosion on suspicion of terrorism

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The Afyonkarahisar Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched a new investigation into an explosion at an Afyonkarahisar munitions depot in 2012 following media reports suggesting the incident had links to terrorism.

The huge explosion and subsequent fire at the depot on Sept. 5, 2012 left 25 soldiers dead and deeply saddened the country. Following the incident, the media repeatedly questioned whether there was a possibility that it was an act of terror. The Afyonkarahisar Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has considered the media reports as tip-offs and recently launched a new investigation into the incident on suspicions of links to terrorism. As part of the investigation, the prosecutor’s office recently sent an official statement to the EskiIehir 1st Air Force Command Military Court, which has been continuing the probe originally launched by the Strategic Research and Study Center (General Staff), requesting the original investigation file.

Lawyer Altan UlutaI, who is representing the families of the dead soldiers, has claimed that heavy construction equipment covered the depot with sand soon after the incident and that there are plans for the site to be used by the state-run Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI) for a construction project. UlutaI also claimed that the depot’s two-ton gate, which was thrown very far from the scene during the explosion, has still not been found he added that experts have not examined the site even though 19 months have passed since the incident. “Two explosions took place within a 15-second interval. Why hasn’t the crater left by the first explosion been examined? Why haven’t technical and scientific examinations been conducted regarding the second explosion? Why haven’t chemical analyses of the soil been made, and why weren’t features of the explosives examined following the incident? Officials have not explained why those explosions did not leave craters and why the equipment in the depot flew 20 kilometers away from the scene.”

The depot had been storing a supply of hand grenades. Initial reports claimed the blast was due to a mishap on the part of the officers who were cataloging the hand grenades. During the initial investigation, the depot’s commander, Maj. Ali Duran, reportedly ordered new recruits to count and catalog the arms in the depot. The new soldiers, who had not yet passed the required three-day military orientation for new recruits, were instructed to carry the arms at night, when the depot was lit only by lights from military vehicles. After the incident, it was determined that nearly 20,000 hand grenades had exploded. After the incident, Maj. Duran, Col. Veysel Özbay and Lt. Tuncay AydIn were held responsible for the deaths and were brought to trial on the grounds of “causing death due to negligence.” The trial is still ongoing.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)