Car bomb kills at least 28 at barracks in Turkish capital
Published 18/02/2016 | 02:30
At least 28 people have been killed and 61 injured after a huge explosion, believed to be a car bomb, rocked Ankara outside a military barracks, the capital's governor has said.
A Turkish official told Al-Arabiya the blast yesterday evening was caused by a vehicle exploding and witnesses on social media shared images of smoke emanating near the building.
The terror attack happened close to buildings housing the prime ministry, the general chief of staff and the defence ministry.
"According to preliminary assessments, five people died and 10 people were injured," Mehmet Kiliclar told state-run Anadolu Agency.
"It is believed that a bomb-laden car caused the explosion."
The blast occurred at 6.30pm (4.30pm Irish time) near the Turkish parliament during rush hour and Turkish newspaper 'Today's Zaman' said the explosion hit a bus carrying military personnel.
The Turkish armed forces' General Staff confirmed that the target was a bus carrying military personnel.
The official, speaking by phone from the military's headquarters, was unable to confirm the death toll from the blast, which government officials have described as an act of terror.
Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, said: "We have received information and we are looking into it."
Mr Davutoglu's office later said he would not go to Brussels last night ahead of the EU summit.
A witness said that they could even smell the explosion from "blocks away": "I heard a huge explosion. There was smoke and a really strong smell even though we were blocks away," the witness said.
Omer Celik, ruling Justice and Development Party spokesman, described the blast as a "terror attack".
Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara, offered his condolences via Twitter. "Firstly, may all those brothers and sisters martyred rest in peace. We wish for patience for the families and offer our condolences.
"These kinds of attacks could happen to us all. The perpetrators of this attack will get their comeuppance. Don't doubt that."
Soon after the attack, Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) announced a media coverage ban of the incident.
It was not clear who was responsible for the attack but in recent months, Isil have targeted tourists and peaceful protests.
In October, Turkey suffered its worst terror attack by Isil-linked suicide bombers during which 103 people were killed.
Last month a suicide bomber, linked to Isil, killed 10 tourists in the popular Sultanahmet district.
Kurdish militants and radical leftists have also attacked parts of Turkey in recent years, including an attack on Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport, during which one worker was killed.
The attack comes at a tense time when the Turkish government is facing an array of challenges.
A ceasefire between the Turkish state and Kurdish guerrilla fighters, part of Kurdistan Workers' Party, collapsed last year and since July, hundreds have been killed in the conflict in the country's south-east.
The Turkish security forces have been engaged in large-scale operations against Kurdish militants in the south-east since December, imposing controversial curfews in flashpoint areas, and the fighting has displaced tens of thousands of civilians.
Turkey has also been helping efforts led by the United States to combat the Isil group in neighbouring Syria.
The Syrian war, meanwhile, is raging along Turkey's southern border.
Recent airstrikes by Russian and Syrian forces have prompted tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to flee to Turkey's border. Turkey so far has refused to let them in, despite being urged to do so by the United Nations and European nations, but is sending aid to Syrian refugee camps right across the border.
Turkey, which is already home to 2.5 million Syrian refugees, has also been a key focus of European Union efforts to halt the biggest flow of refugees to the continent since World War II.
Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of refugees leave every night from Turkey to cross the sea to Greece in smugglers' boats. (© Daily Telegraph London)