Saturday 25 March 2017

Car bomb kills 34 in new Turkey terror attack

Emergency services help an injured victim after an explosion in Ankara's central Kizilay district
Emergency services help an injured victim after an explosion in Ankara's central Kizilay district
A car burns after the explosion in Ankara
Emergency workers work on a bus at the explosion site in Ankara, Turkey

Ece Toksabay

Terrorists killed at least 34 people with a car bomb at a crowded transport hub in the Turkish capital of Ankara - the second such attack in less than a month.

The blast, which could be heard several kilometres away, injured at least 75 people and sent burning debris showering down over an area a few hundred metres from the Justice and Interior Ministries.

Police helicopters hovered overhead as a large cloud of smoke rose over the city centre.

One senior security official said initial findings suggested the attack had been carried out by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) or an affiliated militant group, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The government blamed the PKK and Kurdish militants in Syria for the previous car bombing just a few blocks away on February 17, which killed 29 people, most of them soldiers.

That attack was near Turkey's military headquarters, parliament and other key government institutions.

Prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu is convening an emergency security meeting in the wake of the latest tragedy.

"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 said.

Security officials later revised the death toll upwards to 34..

State broadcaster TRT said the car had exploded at a major transport hub, hitting a bus carrying some 20 people near the central Guven Park and Kizilay Square. It said the area was crowded when the explosion happened at 6.43pm.

The explosion shattered the windows of shops that line Kizilay Square.

Dogan Asik (28), said he was on a bus when the explosion occurred.

"We were thrown further back into the bus from the force of the explosion," said Mr Asik, who sustained injuries on his face and arm.

Police sealed off the area and pushed onlookers and journalists back, warning that there could be a second bomb.

Turkey, a Nato member, faces multiple security threats. As part of a US-led coalition, it is fighting Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. It is also battling PKK militants in its southeast, where a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.

The US embassy issued a warning on Friday that there was information regarding a potential attack on government buildings in the Bahcelievler area of Ankara, several kilometres away from the site of yesterday's blast.

Islamic State militants have carried out at least four bomb attacks on Turkey since June 2015, including a suicide bombing which killed 10 German tourists in the historic heart of Istanbul in January.

Local jihadist groups and groups of leftist radicals have also staged attacks in the country in the past.

Irish Independent

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