Top soldier slams media over depot blast coverage

ANKARA / AFYONKARAHİSAR – Hurriyet – 9.9.2012 -Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel is angry about news reports on the ammunition blast that killed 25 soldiers in western Turkey, Afyonkarahisar governor İrfan Balkanlıoğlu has said.

“Özel became over the headlines on the [Afyonkarahisar] explosion. The inquiry is going into its deepest level. The chief of General Staff was sadder [about the incident] than he would have been had he lost his own son. What is needed will be done and the results will be shared with the public,” Balkanlıoğlu told private news channel NTV on Sept. 7.

Two non-commissioned officers, two special sergeants and 21 privates, were killed in an ammunition depot blast late Sept. 5, which occurred “for unknown reasons,” according to the Turkish Armed Forces. Some experts as well, as political party leaders, voiced doubts over the cause of explosion.

“On one side, the General Staff, on the other side the military and the judiciary have been conducting investigations in a way that will answer all the questions being asked by the public,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ told reporters during his meeting with the Turkmenistan parliament speaker on Friday.

Özel, who chose not to go to the blast scene immediately and sent Land Forces Commander Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu instead, traveled to Afyonkarahisar on Friday.

Inspecting the explosion area in and around the brigade, Özel visited soldiers who were injured in the blast and are now being treated at a public hospital in Afyonkarahisar. “I will not speak, I will not say anything. Everything is obvious,” Gen. Özel briefly told reporters after his visit, refusing to respond reporters’ questions.Meanwhile, Balkanlıoğlu said the military post where the explosion occurred may be relocated outside the city away from residential area.

“Relocating the military post is in question. We have discussed the issue with our [Forestry and Waterworks] minister Veysel Eroğlu. The military post and ammunition depot will be relocated away from the residential area. Our minister has said he was ready to set aside an area for this,” he said.

The governor also revealed that over 100,000 grenades had been scattered around a 1.5 kilometer-squared area around the blast scene. Afyonkarahisar police distributed leaflets displaying an image of the hand grenades, warning people to be careful about unexploded ammunition in the area.In a related development, the dead bodies of the victims and blood samples from families of the victims were sent to the Ankara Forensic Medicine Institute late Thursday.