32 die in Ankara bombing
February 17’s bombing killed 29 people. Source: Wikimedia
A car bomb has torn through a crowded transport hub in Ankara, killing at least 32 people and wounding more than 75. It is the second attack of its sort in the centre of the Turkish capital in less than a month.
“A total of 27 of our citizens were killed when a car exploded at Kizilay’s Guven Park, and close to 75 of our wounded citizens were taken to various hospitals for treatment,” the Ankara governor’s office announced. The death toll later rose to 32.
The blast, which could be heard several kilometres away, sent burning debris falling over the Justice and Interior ministries, a court and the former office of the prime minister.
The authorities were quick to blame the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or an affiliated Kurdish group, although no organisation claimed responsibility. An official said gunfire was heard after the blast.
A government source claimed the car used in the attack was a BMW driven from the town of Viransehir in the predominantly Kurdish southeast. The PKK and the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) were probably responsible, he said.
TAK claimed responsibility for the February 17 car bombing a few blocks away which killed 29 people, mostly soldiers near the military headquarters and parliament.
“The struggle of our government against terrorist organisations has come to such a point that those groups are barely able to survive,” said Ibrahim Çağlar, head of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce. “Such attacks that are done solely with the aim to spill blood just show the sorry state these terrorist organisations are in. They will only achieve that the Turkish state and the Turkish people will stand even stronger together.”
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reportedly held an emergency meeting with the interior minister, the head of the intelligence agency and police and security chiefs.
The pro-Kurdish opposition HDP, the third-largest party in parliament, which Erdogan accuses of being allied with the PKK, condemned the “savage attack”.
An Ankara court has blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites in Turkey after photos from the bombing were shared on social media.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “appalled” and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called it a “cowardly attack”.
Turkey is fighting Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq and PKK militants in its southeast, where a 2½-year ceasefire fell apart in July 2015, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.
Turkey fears growing calls for a separate state as the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria gains territory as it battles the Islamic State and other rebels groups.