95 killed and around 250 wounded in pro-Kurdish Peace rally by suicide bombers

Turkey terror attack: scores killed in twin Ankara blasts
Death toll at least 95 after blasts in Turkish capital
Two explosions target pro-Kurdish peace rally near main train station
Unknown suicide bombers behind the attack three weeks before elections
PM declares three days of national mourning
At least 95 people have been killed and around 250 wounded in the deadliest terror attack in Turkey’s history after two explosions targeted a peace rally in the centre of the capital. 
Twin explosions outside Ankara’s main train station on Saturday morning targeted hundreds of people who had gathered to protest against violence between authorities and the Kurdish militant group, the PKK.

Turkish government officials said the explosions were a terrorist attack carried out by suicide bombers but no group has yet claimed responsibility. Turkey’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, was holding emergency meetings with government officials and security chiefs on Saturday afternoon.

Early statements put the death toll at 86, but on Saturday evening both the pro-Kurdish HDP party and the Turkish Medical Association revised the estimate to 97. The figure is likely to rise again. On Saturday afternoon, the health minister said that 126 had been wounded, but that figure was later raised to 245.

Immediately after the attack at least 20 bodies could be seen covered by bloodstained flags on the road. Witnesses said the blasts were seconds apart shortly after 10am and were so powerful they rocked nearby high-rise buildings.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, condemned the double bombing, saying the attack targeted the country’s unity and peace. Erdoğan said: “I strongly condemn this heinous attack on our unity and our country’s peace. No matter what its origin, aim or name, we are against any form of terrorist act or terrorist organisation. We are obliged to be against it together.”

The president said there was no distinction between the terrorist attack in Ankara, which came just three weeks ahead of parliamentary elections, and the ones targeting Turkish soldiers and police.

“Like other acts of terror, the attack at the Ankara train station is taking aim at our unity, brotherhood and future,” he added. “The solidarity and determination we are going to display in the face of this attack will be the biggest and the most meaningful response to the terror.”

Erdoğan urged people to be “against, not on the side of terror” and said the perpetrators of Saturday’s attack would be found in the shortest time and delivered to justice.

Some witnesses said ambulances could not immediately reach the scene of the attack, and that police obstructed the quick evacuation of the wounded from the square. Turkish MP Sirri Süreyya Önder also claimed a suspicious vehicle and another suspicious package had been found and that bomb-disposal experts had been called to the scene.

In the aftermath of the attack those involved in the peace march tended to the wounded, as hundreds of stunned people wandered around the streets. Bodies lay in two circles around 20m apart where the explosions had taken place.

The prime minister’s office banned media coverage of the attack, citing “security reasons”, though several local media groups said they would ignore the ministry’s orders. Access to social media services, such as Twitter, was temporarily only possible through VPN in Turkey.

Veysel Eroglu, minister for forestry and water, attempted to put the blame on the organisers of the peace rally. “Our people need to be careful of such provocateurs that organise terrorist demonstrations in order to incite discord in social harmony,” he said.

The HDP, one of the groups organising the peace rally, said in a statement that it had specifically been targeted. Several HDP members and parliamentary candidates are among the victims of the attack.

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the HDP party, said: “This attack is not targeting our state and national unity, it is perpetrated by the state against the people. We are witnessing a massacre here. A cruel and barbarian attack was carried out. The death toll is high.” Demirtas added that he did not expect that those responsible for the bombings would be brought to justice.

Asked at a press conference if he had considered resigning over the Ankara attack, interior minister Selami Altinok denied that there had been failures in security preparations for the planned peace rally. Only hours after the Ankara bomb attacks, the PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire and called on its fighters to halt all guerrilla attacks in Turkey, according to the Firat news agency.

The US State Department strongly condemned what it called a heinous attack, while the US Embassy in Ankara said on Twitter: “All of us must stand united against terror.” President Barack Obama later offered his condolences to the Turkish president in a phone call. He reportedly affirmed that the US would “stand with Turkey and its people in the fight against terrorism and other security challenges in the region”.

The explosion will spark significant security concerns ahead of the parliamentary elections and fuel fear over violent outbreaks in the region. A rally for the pro-Kurdish HDP party was bombed in June, ahead of last year’s general election, but this is the deadliest single attack on the country’s soil.

Turkey has been in a heightened state of alert since starting a “synchronised war on terror” in July, including airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and PKK bases in northern Iraq. It has also rounded up hundreds of suspected militants at home.

Designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the European Union, the PKK launched a separatist insurgency in 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

The state launched peace talks with the PKK’s jailed leader in 2012 and the latest in a series of ceasefires had been holding until the violence flared again in July.
95 killed and around 250 wounded in pro-Kurdish Peace rally by suicide bombers 95 killed and around 250 wounded in pro-Kurdish Peace rally by suicide bombers Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 7:24 AM Rating: 5

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