Scuffles in Ankara as nation mourns victims of deadliest terror attack in Turkish history
Published 11/10/2015 | 12:04
Turkish investigators are working to identify the perpetrators and victims of Saturday's twin bomb blasts which killed at least 95 people in the capital Ankara, the most deadly attack of its kind in Turkey’s history.
Two suspected suicide bombers hit a rally of pro-Kurdish and labour activists near Ankara's main train station three weeks before elections, fuelling unease in a country beset by conflict between state forces and Kurdish militants in the southeast.
"We are in mourning for peace," said the front-page headline in the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper as three days of national mourning declared by the prime minister got underway.
Other papers voiced public anger over the attack.
Read More: Deadly explosion rocks Turkish capital Ankara as 86 confirmed dead, 186 injured in 'suicide' attack
"Scum attacked in Ankara," said the Haberturk newspaper. "The goal is to divide the nation," said the pro-government Star.
One of the bombers had been identified as a male aged between 25-30 after analysing bodies at the scene and taking fingerprints, the pro-government Yeni Safak said.
There were no claims of responsibility for the attack, which came as external threats mount for NATO member Turkey with increased fighting across its border with Syria and incursions by Russian warplanes on its air space over the last week.
Scuffles have broken out in the Turkish capital as police prevented pro-Kurdish politicians and other mourners from laying flowers at the site of two suspected suicide bombings that killed 95 people in the country's deadliest attack in years.
Read More: Nato attacks Russia for 'irresponsible' behaviour in flying planes over Turkey
Pope Francis said he was deeply saddened by the mass killing.
The pope asked thousands of faithful in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday to pray in silence for the victims after his weekly Angelus address.
"We are pained ... because the perpetrators hit defenceless people who were demonstrating for peace. I pray for that dear country," the pope said.
Read More: European rights body wants access to under-curfew Turkish town
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, exposing a mosaic of domestic political perils, said Islamic State, Kurdish or far-leftist militants could have carried out the bombing.
His office named 52 of the victims overnight and said autopsies were continuing.
It added that 246 wounded people were still being treated, 48 of them in intensive care.
"The necessary work is being conducted to identify those behind the attack and quickly bring them to justice," the statement said.
Many Kurds believe the Islamist AKP government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has encouraged ISIS as part of his own political ambitions for Syria, as well as out of hostility to the PKK/YPG.
Read More: Turkey vows to protect borders after Russian jet incursion
The HDP's charismatic leader, Selahattin Demirtas, went so far as to suggest the government was implicated in the bombing.
"We are faced with a huge massacre. A barbaric attack has been committed," he said. "We are faced with a murderous state which has turned into a mafia and a state mentality which acts like a serial killer."
Protesters at the scene shouted "Murderer Erdogan" and "the murderer AKP will give account" as the injured were being taken away.
The two blasts happened seconds apart on Saturday morning as crowds, including pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) activists, leftists, labour unions and other civic groups, gathered for a march to protest over the deaths of hundreds since conflict resumed between security forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Hours after the bombing, the PKK as widely expected beforehand ordered its fighters to halt operations in Turkey unless they faced attack.
It said it would avoid acts that could hinder a "fair and just election" on November 1.