World·CBC IN TURKEY

Shocked Turks learning to keep calm, keep moving as attacks mount

Constant headlines of death, detentions and politicians promising revenge haven't numbed everyone in Turkey, but news of the Russian ambassador's assassination was stunning, even to attack-weary Turks.

No country immune to bad news, but it's relentless in Turkey, with 18 major attacks this year

People inside the Ankara photo gallery react after the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was shot. Most Turks can't believe what they are up against, writes Nil Köksal. (Burhan Ozbilici/Associated Press)

The photograph of men and women cowering after a gallery shooting Monday that killed Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov — scared, crying and stunned in a corner — is a vivid snapshot of Turks at this moment.

Most can't believe what they are up against. On an almost daily basis, they face terrifying news.

No country is immune to bad news, but it is relentless here. There have been 18 major attacks just this year. Two occurred within a week of each other. The latest before the gallery event was on Saturday. Combined, they have taken almost 60 lives.

Bouquets adorn the Russian consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday, a day after Ambassador Andrey Karlov was shot dead in Ankara. (Nil Köksal/CBC News)

The constant headlines of death, detentions and politicians promising revenge remarkably haven't totally numbed everyone, but news of the Russian ambassador's assassination was stunning, even to attack-weary Turks.

Among Turkey's 79 million people, there are many who feel their country is in the midst of a war to save its soul, secure its future.

Some, ready to invoke mob mentality at a moment's notice, seem convinced outside forces are constantly conspiring to attack Turkey.

Conspiracy theories aren't new, but they have a dangerous potency in late 2016. They're fuelled by pro-government media, trolls and social media in Turkey, along with blaring headlines spreading stories that accuse the West of masterminding every attack that happens domestically.

Outside the Russian consulate Tuesday, apart from the few who've tucked bouquets into the large wrought iron gates, or left wreaths of condolence, most gave a cursory glance to the heavy security: the armoured car, special forces with machine guns and fatigues, the riot police behind the barricades.

However they're feeling, most can agree, the only way to get through the day these days is to keep your head down, keep walking.

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      About the Author

      Nil Köksal is the host of World Report, CBC's flagship national radio news show. She begins her mornings with more than a million loyal listeners. She returned from her post as CBC’s foreign correspondent in Turkey in 2018.

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