Thursday 8 December 2016

Deadly explosion rocks Turkish capital Ankara as 95 confirmed dead, 246 injured in 'suicide' attack

David Kearns

Published 10/10/2015 | 11:01

Protesters dance during a peace rally as a blast goes off in Ankara. This still image was taken from a video posted on a social media Credit: Melike Tombalak (REUTERS)
Protesters dance during a peace rally as a blast goes off in Ankara. This still image was taken from a video posted on a social media Credit: Melike Tombalak (REUTERS)
A bomb disposal officer inspects a suspected suitcase that proved to be empty at the scene of an explosion in Ankara, Turkey Credit: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Demonstrators moments before twin explosions killed more than 30 at the rally Credit: Osman Orsal (REUTERS)

At least 86 people are dead and 186 wounded in a terror attack that targeted a peace rally in the Turkish capital Ankara.

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Two explosions rocked the main train station in the city, were thousands had gathered to protest against the long-running conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish separatist group, the PKK.

Government officials say the blasts were a terrorist attack and are investigating reports that a suicide bomber was behind at least one of the explosions.

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"Like other terror attacks, the one at the Ankara train station targets our unity, togetherness, brotherhood and future," President Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement, calling for "solidarity and determination".

Bodies covered by flags and banners, including those of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), lay scattered on the road among bloodstains and body parts, witnesses said.

"I heard one big explosion first and tried to cover myself as the windows broke. Right away there was the second one," said Serdar, 37, who was working at a newspaper stand in the train station. "There was shouting and crying and I stayed under the newspapers for a while. I could smell burnt flesh."

A Reuters reporter at the scene saw at least 20 bodies covered by flags, with bloodstains and body parts scattered on the road.

“Bodies lay in two circles around 20 metres apart where the explosions had taken place,” they reported.

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An injured man hugs an injured woman after an explosion during a peace march in Ankara, Turkey Credit: Tumay Berkin ( REUTERS)
An injured man hugs an injured woman after an explosion during a peace march in Ankara, Turkey Credit: Tumay Berkin ( REUTERS)

Witnesses said the blasts were seconds apart shortly after 10am and were so powerful they rocked nearby high-rise buildings.

Those killed and injured had gathered for a rally organised by unions and civil society groups, the ministry said in a written statement.

Turkish police officers secure the area at the site of an explosion, where the bodies of victims were covered with flags and banners (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Turkish police officers secure the area at the site of an explosion, where the bodies of victims were covered with flags and banners (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu told a news conference that 86 people had been killed and 186 wounded, 28 of whom were in intensive care. The death toll could rise further.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts, which come three weeks ahead of a parliamentary election.

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An injured person is carried away following a blast at a peace rally in Ankara. At least 30 people are feared dead in twin explosions Credit: ADEM ALTAN (AFP/Getty Images)
An injured person is carried away following a blast at a peace rally in Ankara. At least 30 people are feared dead in twin explosions Credit: ADEM ALTAN (AFP/Getty Images)
A man cries over the body of a victim, at the site of an explosion in Ankara, Turkey Credit: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

A rally for the pro-Kurdish HDP party was bombed in June, ahead of last year’s general election.

The country 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.

Carnations were placed on the ground following the explosions at the peace march Credit: Osman Orsal (REUTERS)
Carnations were placed on the ground following the explosions at the peace march Credit: Osman Orsal (REUTERS)

Designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, the PKK launched a separatist insurgency in 1984 in the south-eastern part of the country.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict to date.

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