Thousands mourned the 95 victims of Turkey’s deadliest attack in years as state inspectors tried on Sunday to identify who sent suicide bombers to a rally promoting peace with the country’s Kurdish rebels.
Nearly simultaneous explosions targeted a Turkish peace rally in Ankara on Saturday, killing at least 95 people and wounding hundreds in Turkey’s deadliest attack in years — one that threatens to inflame the nation’s ethnic tensions.
The two explosions occurred seconds apart outside the capital’s main train station as hundreds of opposition supporters and Kurdish activists gathered for the peace rally organized by Turkey’s public workers’ union and other groups. The protesters planned to call for increased democracy in Turkey and an end to the renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces.
The government said Kurdish rebels or Islamic State militants were likely responsible, while mourners accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of fomenting violence to gain votes for the ruling party.
No one has claimed responsibility, but the attack bears similarities to a suicide bombing the government blames on the Islamic State group, which killed 33 Turkish and Kurdish peace activists near a town bordering Syria in July. Police detained 14 suspected Islamic State members Sunday in the central Turkish city of Konya, but it wasn’t clear if they were related.
Some Turkish media declared that peace itself was under attack. The bombers struck hours before Kurdish rebels battling Turkish security forces followed through with plans to declare a unilateral cease-fire, to reduce tensions leading up to Nov. 1 elections.
Turkey’s government rejected the declaration, saying the rebels must lay down arms for good and leave Turkey.
On Sunday, police fired tear gas and scuffled with the mourners — some chanting “Murderer Erdogan!” — who tried to reach the blast site to lay carnations. A group of about 70 was eventually allowed to enter the cordoned off area.
More than 10,000 also gathered in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir, holding a moment of silence for the victims, including hundreds of wounded.
Thousands also demonstrated in Istanbul on Saturday, blaming the government.
The government announced that it had appointed two civil and two police chief inspectors to investigate the attack. Yeni Safak, a newspaper close to the government, said investigators had determined that one of the bombers was a male, aged about 25 or 30.
Report by Associated Press
Mourning becomes anger as protesters march in Ankara
One day after a deadly suicide attack in the Turkish capital Ankara – the number of people killed is 95 – and expected to rise with dozens of victims still in intensive care. Thousands of people expressed their anger Sunday, protesting in Ankara CCTV’s Michal Bardavid reports.