An unknown taxi driver has become the focus of many posts in Turkish social media, after the country’s Interior Minister claimed that the driver identified a woman that was involved in a bomb attack earlier this week in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin.
The role of Dilşah Ercan in the attack on 26 September that resulted in the death of a police officer has become a puzzle for many as minister Süleyman Soylu gave her name to the media right after the explosion, but a group that assumed the responsibility of the attack denied her involvement.
The People’s Defence Forces (HPG), military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), assumed responsibility for Monday’s explosions carried out by two female fighters, but said that Ercan had not been one of them, adding that Ercan is very much alive.
The two women who took part in the attack also died on Monday, after they detonated the bombs they were carrying.
Soylu said a taxi driver who brought the attackers to an area housing the police force in Mersin’s Mezitli district later had come to the explosion site and had determined the ID of one of the attackers as Dilşah Ercan.
The minister did not explain how a taxi driver had the skills and knowledge to determine the exact identity and the appearance of a PKK member.
Soylu made this statement as a response to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’ Party (CHP), who called on the government to disclose the DNA report of the attacker.
Another PKK member under arrest, who in the past carried out attacks with Ercan, also identified her, and the finger prints of the attacker matched with Ercan’s, according to Soylu.
An anonymous source talking to Deutsche Welle said that the Ministry of Interior had shared the identity of Ercan before receiving the results of the DNA report of the attacker.
Determining the identity of someone who was killed by a bomb in a suicide attack is almost impossible without a DNA report, according to experts.
“There can be a preliminary identification but further analysis might be needed. If the fingers of the person are intact, of course it is important. But the most concrete evidence comes from the DNA analysis,” told Ahmet Hilal, the head of Turkey’s Forensic Medicine Experts’ Association, to DW.
In the wake of the attack, Soylu linked Ercan to the CHP, saying that Ercan was listed among journalists in prison in a report prepared by the opposition party in 2013.
Ercan was working for Azadiya Welat, the only Kurdish-language daily in Turkey, which was shut down in 2016 after the collapse of peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the PKK.
Ercan, who was released from prison in 2013 during the peace process on the Kurdish issue, then went to northern Iraq to receive training, government-affiliated Turkish media claims.
Many on social media protested Soylu’s statement, saying that the fact that the attacker was identified by a taxi driver revealed the unserious attitude of Turkey’s security apparatus.
Some recalled Soylu’s previous statements in which he claimed that the Turkish state even knew the shoe sizes of every PKK member, and called for the resignation of the Interior Minister.
Pro-Kurdish newspaper Yeni Yaşam used the headline, “The taxi driver should be appointed to replace Soylu”.