Turkish bombings reveal potential for instability following attacks

Posted on Oct 26, 2015

A pair of suicide bombings in Turkey in early October were a potent reminder of the need for effective travel risk management planning. The area around the bombings - a train station in the Turkish capital of Ankara - was thrown into a state of disarray following the attacks as emergency responders tried to control the damage and treat injured victims. This is one area where a strong plan related to employee travel risk management can help keep staff traveling abroad safe, with a clear plan of action ready to be followed in case of an emergency. The bombings also led to some unique changes made by the Turkish government that are important to consider in a travel risk management context as well.

The attacks
Two suicide bombers detonated explosive devices at Ankara Central train station Oct. 10. The combined attacks were called the worst in the country's modern history by the BBC, which also noted the suspected bombers seemed to have ties to the Islamic State terrorist group. The total casualty figure included 97 dead from the attacks and about 250 wounded, which taxed local hospitals and emergency services. Many assume the attacks were directed against a coalition of pro-Kurdish groups that had organized at the train station for a peace rally, although no formal statement taking responsibility for the attack has yet been issued.

"Only with a complete picture can businesses successfully manage the many risks of business travel."

The response
Despite the potential political nature of the attacks - the pro-Kurdish groups and the current party in power in Turkey have clashed to the point where the Kurdistan Workers Party was outlawed - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the bombings were a strike at the whole of the country, according to CNN. While some speculation has centered around the attack as a way to disrupt pro-Kurdish groups, others believe the violence was intended to disrupt upcoming elections and generally sow discord among the country. With the recent political climate especially combative, the attackers may have been driven by a number of different motivations.

The suspensions
One very unique aspect of the days following the attacks was Erdogan's decision to suspend some of the country's top security chiefs shortly after the bombing. The BBC said local intelligence, security and police directors in Ankara were removed from their roles following the identification of failures in intelligence-gathering and security.

"There must undoubtedly be a mistake, a shortcoming in some place," Erdogan said, according to the BBC. "Of what dimension? This will emerge after examinations. If there's any negligence of duty, then both the prime minister and related units will take steps needed."

The impacts for business travelers
Corporate travel planning must incorporate awareness of a variety of different situations and potential incidents, and the attacks in Turkey display the broad nature of those needs. Not only should staff traveling on business be aware of contingency plans for dealing with a violent man-made or natural event, they also need to know of major changes that materially affect security, such as ongoing political conflict or major changes to a country's management of its security forces. Only with a complete picture can businesses successfully manage the many risks of business travel.


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