ISTANBUL: Turkey has blocked access to Twitter to prevent the broadcast of images of Monday’s bombing in southeast Turkey that killed 32 people, the state-run Anadolu Agency said yesterday. The government was also trying to block Twitter users from calling for protests against the government for not doing more to prevent the bombing, the agency said. Officials had raised concerns that the bombing in the town of Suruc is part of a campaign of retaliation by the Islamic State group for a recent crackdown on its operations in the country. Turkish officials say they have detained more than 500 people suspected of working with IS in the last six months. Officials say an operation this month netted 21 terrorism suspects in an investigation of recruitment networks in multiple parts of the country.
Earlier, a court in Suruc issued a ban on the publication of images related to the bombing in the media, including the Internet and social media platforms, and ruled that access be barred to Internet sites that do not comply with the ban, the Anadolu Agency reported. A government official said Turkey had asked Twitter to remove 107 URLs with images of the aftermath of the bombing. Twitter had removed some 50 of the URLs and was working to remove the remaining problematic URLs. The official said he expected the URLs to be removed soon and for the access to be restored. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without authorization. Turkey has periodically blocked social media in the past.
Earlier this year the government ordered a temporary block on Twitter and YouTube during a hostage crisis in an Istanbul courthouse. Those sites were also blocked last year after audio recordings of a secret security meeting or tapes suggesting corruption by government officials were leaked on the social media sites. Turkey’s highest court, however, overturned those bans, deeming them to be unconstitutional. Previous moves by Turkish authorities to block the social media networks have provoked widespread criticism by Western governments and human rights organizations. —AP