Explosion in Budapest: Skeptical Hungarians suspect foul play

Last night around 10:30 there was an explosion in front of an empty storefront at 2-4 Teréz körút. Two policemen, a man and a woman, both in their twenties, were seriously injured. According to early reports, the explosion took place inside the store, but eventually it was ascertained that the detonation of the anti-personnel nail bomb occurred outside. Hundreds of nails have been found nearby.

A few minutes after the explosion / Photo by László, a reader of Index

A few minutes after the explosion / Photo by László, a reader of Index

In no time, hundreds of policemen surrounded the area and evacuated the residents of the building. The police went from building to building, from apartment to apartment all night in the area, requesting information from the inhabitants. Some people near the scene of the crime reported a very powerful blast that did considerable damage to nearby buildings.

A demolition expert shared his knowledge of nail bombs with the public. On the basis of pictures of the crime scene he ascertained that this particular bomb was a small, most likely home-made device, adding that this was the kind of explosive device used in the Brussels airport and metro station that killed 31 people and wounded 250. Nail bombs are used mostly in the Middle East (including Israel), in the United States, and lately in Western Europe. In Hungary no such apparatus has ever been used. After this information, it was no surprise that people thought that whatever happened on Teréz kőrút was likely an act of terrorism.

Another expert, István Gyarmati, a Hungarian diplomat and political scientist specializing in national security issues, found it “odd that the victims were policemen and only policemen.” He found it equally strange that “they were only wounded” and not killed. So, it was inevitable that rumors began circulating on Facebook and in comments to newspaper articles about the possible perpetrators. This was especially the case since, until late tonight, the police refused to share any information with the public about the case.

This morning 24.hu neatly summarized the “facts,” which stoked public suspicion. The paper found it strange that only two policemen were hurt and that the first two people to arrive on the scene happened to be policemen in civilian clothes. Within minutes 100 policemen arrived in armored personnel carriers. Pieces of information coming from the policemen at the scene were contradictory and, most importantly, 12 hours after the explosion no official information was available.

Clearly, the reporter for 24.hu suspected that the explosion was an inside job. And he is not alone. No matter what the police investigation of the incident uncovers, a large segment of the Hungarian population will believe that the whole affair was staged by the Orbán government to make sure that the refugee referendum on October 2 succeeds. This shows the depth of suspicion that surrounds the Orbán government.

As the day went by more information was received from those who witnessed the bloody scene. MTV’s M1 station learned that a still unidentified man placed a package or brief case on the sidewalk seconds before the explosion. HVG learned that the two young policemen were actually the specific targets of the assailant. Employees of a restaurant selling gyros nearby claimed to see a white-skinned man around age 40 wearing a white hat. All sorts of stories were circulating, which only added to the suspicion of chicanery.

Around 2:00 DK demanded that the police and the government clear the air and tell the public by 6:00 p.m. what they have learned so far about the incident because “many people don’t find it impossible, in fact they believe it to be likely, that the Orbán government is behind” the alleged terrorist act. About the same time Bence Tuzson, undersecretary in charge of government communication at the prime minister’s office, told MTI, the Hungarian telegraphic agency, that by tonight the police will have enough information to inform the public of the details of the case. Népszabadság was pleased that Tuzson refrained from frightening people with terrorism. On the other hand, Georg Spöttle, another suspicious expert close to the Hungarian government who was apparently at one point a member of the German police force, announced that according to German law all crime using a detonating device is considered to be a terrorist act.

At last, around 9:00 p.m., Károly Papp, chief of the whole Hungarian police force, accompanied by the head of the Central Investigative Prosecutor’s Office (Központi Nyomozó Főügyészség) made an official announcement. Papp said that the assailant’s targets were the two policemen, adding an important sentence to the announcement: “he viewed the attack on these individuals as an assault on the whole police force.” A manhunt began for a 20- to 25-year-old man about 170 cm tall with a light-colored fisherman’s hat who wore a dark denim jacket, blue jeans, and white sneakers. The police are ready to pay 10 million forints to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

Although Police Chief Papp didn’t call the incident a terrorist act, there are a couple of sentences in his comments that are worrisome. He announced that tightened security measures have been introduced at the Ferenc Liszt International Airport, at border crossings, and on all international trains. A well-known journalist on Facebook found it troubling that Papp considers the attack on these two individuals to be an attack on the whole police force, which can be interpreted as a terrorist act. If that is the case, the government might introduce a state of emergency for the next two weeks, which would include the day the referendum is being held. That would mean a ban on demonstrations planned by opposition parties.

To these questions we have no answers at the moment. I’m pretty certain that a lone individual is responsible for the crime, but what this man’s motivation was only time will tell. Skeptical Hungarians on Facebook, however, are certain that we will never know the truth because whatever it is will be made a state secret for at least thirty years. That’s Orbán’s Hungary for you.

September 25, 2016
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Member
Re: tricks & scaremongering by Orban + Fidesz. Next Level. On Saturday night 24.9.16. at 10.45 pm, there was reportedly a bomb attack in Budapest. 2 people hurt, both police officers, no one else injured. It was on Erzsébet utca, the main ring road of the city. I went to take look at the scene today. It was cordoned off, but you could pass around it on foot. I was on the scene at 6.15 pm, at 6.30 pm the police were due to make a TV statement. One street back, parallel to the crime scene is a small street Kürt u. It was closed both ends by tape and guarded by private security. I watched as a lorry with a giant, car sized industrial fan hidden in Kürt u covered the scene with movie style smoke and an odd smell. 15 mins before the TV coverage. There were also 2 or 3 other smaller ride on machines, a digger etc, the type that put holes in walls etc. I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. A totally stage managed, faked scene. I got a photo, but of course it was partially blurred by the movie smoke. Other important points… Read more »
Guest

To Budapest Callling
What you have said is very important and you are a first-hand eye-witness to a crime orchestrated and perpetrated by the government on civil society. Can you not take your statement and your account of this incident to a higher court in Brussels?

Member

I would be prepared to give my statement on record. Not of course to Hungarian media or officials. I don’t know how the process works regarding passing my account to CJEU.

Member

You wrote: “I got a photo, but of course it was partially blurred by the movie smoke.” Would you consider emailing the photo to Eva?

Member

I just sent it over.

Bowen
Guest

I was also at Kurt utca at about 5pm last night. That part of Kiraly utca wasn’t blocked off (the news reports said it was).

• Kertesz utca was lined with film crew vans
• All of Kurt utca was filled with yellowish smoke
• People were waving 1956 flags, shouting ‘Ruszkik haza’.
• This is precisely the street near which the explosion had taken place, and a police investigation was still being carried out (you couldn’t access Terez Krt or Erzsebet Krt).

If this was an actual terrorist attack, then it would be utterly bizarre that a film crew would be allowed to go to that particular street, block it off, and fill it with movie smoke.

I also noted the complete lack of alarm, or security around Oktogon and Andrassy street, where everyone was going about their business as usual.

Member

The presence of a film-crew on an adjacent street to this bombing is a truly astonishing coincident, but I think it is just about that.
This is one of my pictures from around 4 PM, two hours before you.
https://twitter.com/CarpathViking/status/780045236068376576

Member

Wow, I didn’t know there’d been a film crew there, that is really weird. When I arrived there were none of the camera’s crew or cast, just a giant smoke machine lorry that was working.

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d say they just got the same production company to manage both events to save on costs.

Guest
Re: ‘Someone tried to execute my officers’…. Karoly Papp And the ‘brotherhood’ for it is duly one will certainly band together under that telling quote. Police work is a hazardous occupation with thrilling highs and gut-crunching lows dealing with addicts, criminals and domestic abusers and terrorists. It is they who have the great difficult job of upholding the ‘laws’ of its society. One thing the bombing certainly will do among them now is get their armor up and rally as a unit as a result of being targeted for ‘execution’. And they’ll be backed up the state and society to go out abd do their duty. So for the future taking this ‘bombing’ into account with police actions at the borders it might not be so out of line to conjecture that law enforcement personnel will perhaps have no compunction in lessening its use of force against say defined ‘miscreants’ in the current fearful atmosphere of the highly-tensioned country. We just may see another ramp up in the definition of what it means to have a ‘police state’ within an alleged democratic country. Miscreants no doubt will get to see this at some point in fearful time.
dos929
Guest

Without doubt it is a provocation by the regime to put the fear of God or rather the fear of the refugees into the mind of the public, thus ‘force’ them to vote and to vote YES… Whatever hopes may have left for the return of a democratic government have dissipated. Congratulations Orban! Well done! Your regime really and truly deserves the “1984” award…. for now. But the future fate of you and your regime will be decided by your citizens, the very people that you grinded into the ground….

Member

If there are no terrorists coming to Hungary, the viktor and his trusted man hire someone homegrown. This explosion was NOTHING like the terrorist plots! They want to blow up as many people as possible, not two police personnel on the beat, when there are no people on the street. This was organized by the vicious, unscrupulous criminal gang, masquerading as the Hungarian government.

Member

If it is a terrorist act, did anyone claimed responsibility? That is the whole point of such “attack”. What was the point?

Guest

Re: ‘What was the point?’

You know prior to the bombing Magyar society was at a particular state of so-called entropy within its system. Whoever was responsible has indeed moved the disorder needle a bit forward. And it should be expected that those who control the systems of ‘order’ under those circumstances will always have the edge and advantage in pushing along various ‘agendas’ to direct or solidify positions. Curious if more bombings will follow just to make sure ‘message’ is loud and clear.

webber
Guest

Apparently the police do not consider it a terrorist act, because they say their officers were the target.
Tightening the borders to keep the perpetrator from getting out of the country is not unheard of in simple murder cases.

webber
Guest

Since we’ve gone into the realm of wild speculation, I’ll add my own:
Those two police officers were expecting to find something else in a backpack left precisely there. Money, perhaps? Perhaps something they could sell? (I’ve been told that police officers are the “safest” drug dealers in Budapest.)
And perhaps the person who said he would leave something for them decided they were too expensive and wanted to do away with them instead.

I have no evidence whatsoever to back up that theory. In other words, I have just as much evidence as everyone else here who has come up with wild theories.

All this speculation belongs in a Balkan bar.

Jean P.
Guest

“All this speculation belongs in a Balkan bar.”

It belongs in an official police statement. It has to be answered. It is too widespread and unfortunately too probable to be ignored.

webber
Guest
No, it does not belong in an official police statement. Really, you are French – you have had real terror attacks there, and you know perfectly well that proper police statements are mostly limited to the facts and refuse to speculate. Here is what the Hungarian police have said: The police say they are not ruling anything out, though they have 7 most-likely possible scenarios, which they are not sharing with the pubic (that is proper procedure). They have said that the police officers were the target (they don’t say why they think that – elsewhere, unconfirmed, we hear the bomb was detonated intentionally when the officers were next to it). Because of CCTV footage, they have announced they are looking for a male suspect, 20-25 years old, about 170 cm. (5′ 6″) tall who was wearing bluejeans and a light-colored fisherman’s cap. They have offered a reward for any information, and they have set up measures at the borders to catch the fellow if he tries to leave the country. They have not said whether they think he is in the country, but the measures they have taken suggest they hope he is. If all this was a conspiracy… Read more »
webber
Guest

… and whoever they suspect was also wearing white sneakers (trainers, for Brits) and a jacket made of dark fabric. For those who read Hungarian, all information released by the police is here. I am sure they will release more information as time passes:
http://index.hu/belfold/2016/09/25/ki_akartak_vegezni_a_rendoroket/

pappp
Guest

The police (except for perhaps the most trusted top people) can’t be in on conspiracy because that would mean potentially way too many people involved. Among others this is why it is unlikely that 9/11 (or parts of it) was a conspiracy it is unlikely that such a huge thing can remain a secret for long if potentially dozens and dozens would have to be involved.

But let’s not forget that the police can investigate but at some point the prosecution which anyway directs the police will intervene (so that certain things may remain buried if the case warrants – if it turned out that this was a drug deal etc. which would implicate dirty cops I’m not sure the prosecution is in the mood to enlighten the public about it).

One reason why it is very unlikely that we deal with a terrorist attack is because why would such a person do out in front of an empty shop when a 100 meters from there you have the party district with tons of people. Makes no sense.

Guest

” Really, you are French …”

No personal attacks please.

webber
Guest

Being French is a fact. I apologize if you took it as an insult, but I don’t perceive calling someone French anything negative at all.

BMO
Guest
Might as well start packing your bags Hungarians and leave while you can.. Now on the govt. communication strategy concerning this act: Right after a friend broke the news to me, I instantly thought that the government will go silent and lets the media do the job for them. Ceteris paribus, this itself should have been enough to mobilize large elements of the right and and even lure parts of the left to a “Yes”. By now, I’m fairly certain that the right’s turnout is actually taken care of no matter what is to come. However this communication seems to have spectacularly backfired in a way that it also managed to highlight very concerning post-hoc developments Eva also picked up on. While I do not think this was an explicit, direct order from Orban, the Party has been implicitly employing Soviet-era tactics in politics, sports and culture. Even if the Orban government has no direct involvement in this, the perpetrator was 1 – either financed, inspired by elements of the right to assist the “cause” 2 – has nothing to do with the government or Fidesz altogether, but (!) note this point carefully; the government is so ostensibly in the… Read more »
Jean P.
Guest

Eva: “I’m pretty certain that a lone individual is responsible for the crime….”

Your commenters don’t agree.

webber
Guest

Some of us do.

Member
“Within minutes 100 policemen arrived in armored personnel carriers” — I was not at that scene, but 700 m from it on the Nagy Korut, where exactly one our, my timestamp was 23:40, a caravan of maybe 8 normal Riot Police vans passed, escorted by several normal Police cars. I assume this was the tactical reserve force, maybe Police Cadette even, that was brought into the site. Note the timing here – 1 hour. What ever was on the scene inside the first 30 minutes was all resources, including inner staff, that the Budapest Police could throw in. Personally I do not believe in these “armored personnel carriers”, no pictures on them as I have seen and no tactical reason to employ them outside the airport, where they normally stay. The bombing site was never hot after the actual explosion and the Police had not a clue what had happened and what might happened. Initially it was just some explosion, but Officers down, so all resources at hand were sent there, or just went there by themselves out collegial solidarity. What seems to have happened and what may explain the utter lack of public information is similar that happened in… Read more »
BMO
Guest

Just a short addendum of two words, precariously perched on the border of logic and conspiracy: Foreign involvement.

Following the bloody Maidan revolution of Ukraine and the removal of a Putin puppet, Putin has attacked Ukraine with force. It doesn’t take a lot to imagine how this helps the larger geopolitical chess Putin is playing… just some funny thoughts…

LwiiH
Guest

It’s being reported as a gas explosion in the Mirror. It is the simplist explanation.

webber
Guest

The Guardian has reported that it was not a gas explosion, and “unconfirmed reports suggest” it was a “device in bag left at scene.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/25/budapest-explosion-of-unknown-origin-injures-two-police-officers

Bowen
Guest

Here is a brief news report (and photo) of the film shoot (including smoke!) at Kurt utca yesterday.

http://index.hu/mindekozben/poszt/2016/09/25/csapo_indul_megint_fust_es_ordibalas_a_kiraly_utca_kornyeken/

Member

To add my cent – I was passing by Oktogon in the tram replacing bus at 21:20. There was a terrible traffic jam because the police were blocking Andrássy with multiple cars. There was one ambulance on the site, two bikes thrown on a bush in the central part of Oktogon and a civilian car. It did not seem like they are investigating a car crash. I immediately checked my phone for any news but did not find anything that would be indicating what is going on. It might be connected to the movie shooting.

Frankly, I find it really odd that a bomb goes off and hurts just two passing by policemen. Anyway, hope they will recover soon. To my best knowledge, no terrorist organization has claimed to have staged this. Also, I hope that the building will get repaired, not like the many historical buildings in the city centre that still carry the bullet holes from 1956 revolution.

PALIKA
Guest

Katechka, not just from 1956, also the siege by the Red Army in 1944, which thankfully saved the life of the still remaining members of my family.

Yes I wish the injured a rapid recovery. I feel with them in these terrible times

heinrich vichtern
Guest

unthankfully since you’re here

Member

According to a witness who happened to walk by when the explosion happened:
“For the las few years a handicapped, homeless person lived in the arch where the explosion took place” He was not there at his place…

The witness did not see the explosion itself, he returned when the bomb went off. He called the police in less then two minutes and was surprised to see that two undercover police officer were already there.

The witness also found it ad that one odd the first question of the police officers: “Did you hear anyone screaming “Allahu akbar”?

http://nol.hu/belfold/terez-korut-robbantas-merenylet-budapest-1633409

webber
Guest

Maybe the homeless guy had gone to the toilet. Maybe he went to look for something to eat. Maybe he just moved. And maybe the attacker told him to leave, just as the person who blew up a bank a year or two ago told the nearby homeless fellow to get out. I’m sure the police are looking into that.

According to another report, a large group of tourists passed by the spot when the bomb was already in place, suggesting that the attacker was certainly not a terrorist, and might really have been targeting the police, perhaps one or both of those police officers personally.

As to the question about “Allahu Akbar” – it seems like a natural question given the atmosphere these days. And the answer was that nobody heard anything like that.

Guest

In any investigation – and indeed in any interview under, for example, the UK’s PACE, you shouldn’t ask leading, sometimes called loaded, questions.

However there is a subtle difference between a leading and loaded question, but both may influence the response.

The evidence loses ‘weight’ from a witness if it is a response to a leading question and in any UK court is at least inadmissible – but if it slips through would be challenged in the courtroom.

By asking “Did you year anyone shout Alu Akbar?” is decidedly unwise in any investigation, formal or otherwise.

Even in an information gathering process by a journalist, for example, it is still unacceptable and bad practice which will reflect on the quality of the information.

A bad example of the worst sort of loaded question is:

“When did you stop beating your wife?”

And of course an example of the recent worst leading question of all:

“Do you want the European Union to be able to order the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without parliament’s consent?”

Guest

And of course – this is on the first page of ‘how to be a policeman’ in most decent democracies.

Member

A strong point.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest
Guest

Ok.

So the blown-up police were in uniform and not in plain clothes.

And there is reason to believe they were targeted – but it’s still only circumstantial and too soon for the police to declare it.

webber
Guest

True. The bomb might have gone off right when they were there just by chance. A lot of people walked by there. It was not a deserted area at all, judging from the video.

Guest

Got a kick about Domotor noting the left shouldn’t use the bombing for political purposes. As if there are aren’t other fish floating around to fry in the great game of Magyar politics.

Guest

The best witnesses are the two injured police officers. Let us pray for their recovery and safety.

Guest

Yes. They can corroborate the video making it powerful evidence.

Guest

It is extremely unusual for the police to allow the video to be viewed at this time.

While not obvious it precludes them from having certain strategies if and when they interrogate the alleged perpetrator.

If it has been distributed without their knowledge then they have a legitimate and public-interest reason to prosecute whoever leaked it with obstructing police enquiries.

In addition the perpetrators leave themselves exposed to contempt of court charges – even though court proceedings have probably not started.

If the police have released it then they are fools.

Guest

It is usual to ‘seize’ CCTV evidence and issue a receipt with a warning that any contents must not be revealed on pain of prosecution.

Member

Someone should of prayed that it did not happen ! I think many people prayed after France and Belgium that senseless acts like that would not happen. How did that work out?
I wish them the best, and I hope that the perpetrators will be found!

Jan
Guest

Here is the promised CCTV footage:

Guest

Yes. tappanch put it up in an earlier post above – check it out.

heinrich vichtern
Guest

how do we know he’s white – it’s a black and white camera – maybe he had an olive tinge?

Jan
Guest

Here is the CCTV footage… 🙁

Guest

Yes. tappanch put it up in an earlier post above – check it out.

petofi
Guest

Oy vay, tzurelay! What hubbub and to do.

The fact is that Kusturica has run out of material in Serbia and has hiked up to Budapest and set up his cameras….doesn’t even need any additional gypsy actors, either!

tappanch
Guest

1.
Kürt street today (50 meters from the bombing site).
There was very thick smoke in the street and a Russian tank (movie shooting).

It occurred to me, wasn’t the bomb created from pyrotechnical and other materials used in the shooting of the 1956 fighting scene?

Is it possible that the assassin went back to the thick smoke of this small street after detonated his bomb ?

2.
Why did the police practice the aftermath of a bombing on the same boulevard (few hundred meters from the actual site of the attempt) 2 days before the bombing ?

Guest

Wow life can get so ‘strange’ over there!

http://youtu.be/XVSRm80WzZk

tappanch
Guest

Pol Pot’s prosecutors took over the investigation from the police today.

http://444.hu/2016/09/26/mostantol-az-ugyeszseg-nyomoz-tovabb-a-terez-koruti-robbantas-ugyeben

Tyrker
Guest

“Why did the police practice the aftermath of a bombing on the same boulevard (few hundred meters from the actual site of the attempt) 2 days before the bombing ?”

Where did you read about that? I’m genuinely interested.

tappanch
Guest

I did not read about, I witnessed it.

tappanch:

September 25, 2016 5:04 am

“I had been walking on the main boulevard [two] days before, on Thursday afternoon. Near Blaha Lujza square, I noticed that there were police in front of EACH gate. I asked a policeman why. He answered that they had to evacuate all of the houses because of a “bomb”, and police were preventing anyone from entering the empty houses. I saw lots of police cars on the other side of the boulevard, near the former cinema “Bastya”. ”

September 25, 2016 6:12 am

“I witnessed the police operation around 4 or 5 in the afternoon on Thursday, 22nd September.

So either police practiced a similar scene 2 days before the blast, or […] they had general information like “bomb on the main boulevard in the next few days”. “

Tyrker
Guest

Ah! I see… Thanks.

heinrich vichtern
Guest

My guess is someone on this blog did it. Just look at the “opinions” here. Hopefully, Hungarian special forces are on the way.

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