Istanbul bombings heighten tensions in an increasingly divided Turkey

Seventeen people are killed and over 150 wounded in attacks that occurred hours before the country's highest judicial body rules on whether the governing AK party should be banned.

A bomb attack in Istanbul on Sunday killed 17 people and left over 150 injured, heightening tensions hours before a controversial court case judging whether to ban Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) began Monday. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but speculations are rife, signaling the divisiveness of Turkey's political landscape.

According to Reuters, the attack was a particularly fatal double bombing.

The bombings occurred in the run-up to the meeting of Turkey's highest judicial body, which is to deliberate today whether the ruling AK party (AKP) has engaged in Islamist activity and should therefore be banned. The case is a standoff in a long-running power struggle between Turkey's secularists and Islamists, reports the BBC.

The BBC adds, however, that it is unclear whether the attacks were timed to coincide with the controversial court case.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Turkish authorities are pointing fingers at Kurdish separatists, reports The Washington Post.

Accusations are being directed towards Kurdish separatists because the Istanbul attacks occurred hours after Turkish jets bombed suspected PKK posts in Iraq, which are allegedly used as bases from which to carry out strikes on Turkish territory, reports the Journal of Turkish Weekly.

A report in Today's Zaman, an English-language Turkish daily, states that prosecutors have shown that the PKK also has ties to the clandestine ultranationalist group known as Ergenekon – members of which were charged earlier this month with planning a coup.

On Friday, an Istanbul court agreed to hear the case over the investigation into Ergenekon, a move that will initiate the trial process for dozens of suspected organization members, including retired Army officers, academics, journalists, and businessmen.

While the Istanbul bombings may not be a direct response to the Constitutional Court's deliberations over the AKP, regional media draw attention to Turkey's increasingly divided political landscape. A commentary in The Daily Star, for example, says that the polarization is worrisome.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that polarized media coverage on the AKP trial and Ergenekon affair has made it difficult for citizens to get an accurate understanding of these critical developments.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.