A former Turkish justice minister walked away from an attempted suicide attack unharmed, when his bodyguard thwarted the bomber at a private university in Ankara yesterday.
Hikmet Sami Türk, 74, was the justice minister between 1999 and 2002 when F-type prisons were opened to end the control and nesting of mainly leftist terrorist organizations in detention facilities. Yesterday, he was about to enter his constitutional law class at Bilkent University’s law faculty when a girl approached him at 10:45. "She pretended to ask a question, I told her to come after the class. Just as I entered the class I heard an explosion behind me," Türk told reporters after the failed suicide bombing. "She managed to activate a detonator or two, but the main explosive, which is said to be enough to destroy the building, did not go off," Türk said.
Female attacker Didem Akman, a terrorist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front member who has at least 10 criminal records as well as three detention orders against her, and who last entered Turkey from Bulgaria, was caught wounded at the scene and was transported to Atatürk Research Hospital. Her partner, Serkan Onur Yılmaz, suspected to be monitoring Akman, was caught at an intercity bus travel company’s office outside the university. Yılmaz brought Akman to the university, and attempted to leave the city once the attack was unsuccessful. Intelligence reports suggested that Yılmaz had received bomb training abroad and was planning to enter Turkey. Akman was a student at another law faculty before being expelled by her university.
"She entered the university by leaving a fake ID at the main gate and telling the guards that she wanted to use the library," deputy-rector responsible for administrative affairs Kürşat Aydoğan told reporters. The university’s library is open to the public. "Security camera records at the main gate and at the library have been delivered to the gendarmerie for analysis," he said.
"This was the closest assassination attempt against me," said Türk, who has several guards assigned by the police department. "This is by no means an attempt by an individual. It has clear terrorist organizational links," Türk said.
’Return to life’
Türk said the Operation Return to Life, conducted in the year 2000 in 20 prisons nationwide to end hunger strikes started by inmates against F-type prisons, as the reason behind the assassination attempt. "That terrorist organization was in virtual control of Turkish prisons and its arrested members were masterminds of terrorist attacks in the country. Various attempts by intellectuals, architecture and engineers’ chambers and lawyers’ bars were to no avail and the hunger strike reached its 60th day, which the Turkish Doctors’ Association warned could be the start of death cases.
When the hunger strikes turned into death strikes, we decided to launch the Operation Return to Life," said the former minister. The operation left 30 inmates and two gendarmes dead. It was announced Tuesday that the case against security officers who took part in the operation on charges of misusing public authority was dropped due to the case’s expiration on June 18.
He also recalled a similar incident in 2002 when another female suspected militant attempted a suicide attack in Kartal prison in Istanbul while pretending to be a journalist. She also entered Turkey from Bulgaria, he said. "I think there might be a training facility behind these attacks."
Earlier reports said Turkey's national police department headquarters warned police departments in major cities against possible suicide attacks that could be launched by three bombers sent by terror organization Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, from the country's Southeast.