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Istanbul nightclub massacre rattles city weakened by terror and instability

A manhunt was launched this week for an attacker who killed 39 people and wounded dozens during a terrorist attack in a nightclub in Istanbul.

Istanbul, which has recently witnessed a spate of ISIS-inspired or supported terror attacks, was rocked by the news that another major attack had taken place. The attack took mere weeks after a truck drove into crowds of people in Berlin, killing several people and injuring many others.

Security footage from the club showed a gunman opening fire in a crowded room. Those killed or wounded included dozens of foreigners.

The attack is another example of countless attacks against unarmed individuals in secular, celebratory environments by terrorists over the past year.

The failure of the Turkish-Kurdish peace process in 2015 reopened fresh violence as Turkish Kurds, furious at Turkish operations in Syria, protested in various Turkish cities, creating a dozens of fatalities.

Large-scale violence has followed since in several cities in Turkish Kurdistan and in cities throughout Turkey. In February 2016, Kurdish independence fighters claimed responsibility for an attack in Ankara that killed 30 people. Another attack in Ankara in March killed another 37 people. (Both attacks were carried out by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, a group that openly opposes the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, for its openness to compromise with the Turkish government).

Meanwhile, ISIS-backed groups and individual terrorists have launched terrorist attacks in Istanbul, including an attack on Atatürk Airport in June, 2016, killing forty-five people and injuring 230 (no one has claimed responsibility for the attack).

Countless rocket attacks and several large, deadly terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Ankara and elsewhere have also been attributed to ISIS.

While ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, their role has not been confirmed (an ISIS spokesman called the attack a strike against the “apostate” Turkish state who are “protectors of the cross”). Still, Turkey has already launched retaliatory attacks against ISIS bases in Syria, as it regularly does following ISIS-related incidents.

While Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan is able to demonstrate willingness to respond to provocations by attacking ISIS locations, it is unlikely to prevent future attacks by either ISIS or lone-wolf attackers who find it easier than ever to provoke mass hysteria through highly publicized shootings.

 

 

 

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