Twin blasts in the centre of the Turkish capital kill at least 30, injure more than 120, interior ministry says.
by Al Jazeera
Two explosions have rocked a road junction in the centre of the Turkish capital Ankara, killing at least 30 people and injuring dozens of others, the interior ministry said.
The blasts took place several minutes apart, with the first going off at around 10:00am (0700 GMT), local media reported.
A video on social media showed the moment of one explosion: young people were dancing and waving banners as a massive fireball erupts.
The explosions occurred near a train station where people were gathering for a peace march to protest against the conflict between the state and Kurdish fighters in southeast Turkey.
Video footage on social media showed several bodies lying on the ground, as survivors tried to attend to the wounded.
Emergency crews were at the scene, responding to the injuries, with ambulances rushing off to several local hospitals. There were reports of shortages of blood and calls for donations.
“We heard one huge blast and then one smaller explosion and then there was a a great movement and panic. Then we saw corpses around the station,” said Ahmet Onen, 52.
“A demonstration that was to promote peace has turned into a massacre, I don’t understand this,” he said, in floods of tears.
Demonstrators angered by the attack on their fellow activists shouted “police murderers!” at the scene of the blasts but were then dispersed as the security forces intervened.
The rally was organised by several leftist groups, including the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Ankara'da patlama! Patlamalara çöp kutuları içine olan bombalar neden oldu. Çok sayıda ağır yaralı var. pic.twitter.com/etEQ73Ubs6
— 'Hayal Tamircileri' (@HayalTamir) October 10, 2015
“We are faced with a huge massacre. A barbaric attack has been committed,” said the HDP’s leader Selahattin Demirtas.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly denounced the attack.
“I strongly condemn this heinous attack on our unity and our country’s peace,” Erdogan said in a statement posted on the presidency’s website.
“No matter what its origin, aim or name, we are against any form of terrorist act or terrorist organisation. We are obliged to be against it together,” Erdogan said.
The attack came with Turkey on edge ahead of November 1 polls and a wave of unrest over the past few months.
An attack in the predominantly Kurdish town of Suruc on July 20 targeting pro-HDP activists and blamed on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters killed 32 people and wounded a hundred others.
The armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) accused Ankara of collaborating with ISIL and resumed attacks on the Turkish security forces after observing a two-year ceasefire.
Over 140 members of the security forces have since been killed while Ankara claims to have killed over 1,700 Kurdish fighters in weeks of bombardments of PKK targets in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.
Hours after the blasts in Ankara, the PKK called for a unilateral ceasefire in its fight against the Turkish state “unless they or the Kurdish people are attacked”, according to a statement carried by Kurdish news agencies.
The statement was released by the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) and did not reference Saturday’s attack in Ankara.
The move was widely expected as analysts said the PKK hoped it would boost the HDP’s score in the upcoming election.
The HDP performed strongly in the last vote on June 7, winning 80 seats to deprive President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of an outright majority for the first time since it came to power in 2002.
The AKP then failed to form a coalition in months of talks, prompting Erdogan – who had been hoping for a large majority to push through reforms to boost his powers – to call another election on November 1.
Initial reports on Saturday’s blasts spoke of a single explosion but Turkish media said later there had been two separate blasts in short sequence.
The authorities were exploring the possibility that the blasts could have been caused by a suicide bomber, the official Anatolia news agency said.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had been briefed over the blast by Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, Anatolia said.
“We are investigating the explosion and will share our findings with the public as soon as possible,” a Turkish official said, without giving further details.