Nation mourns 95 victims in Turkey’s biggest ever terror attack
AA photoTurkey woke in mourning on Oct. 11 after at least 95 people were killed by suspected suicide bombers at a peace rally in Ankara, the deadliest such attack in the country’s recent history.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu declared three days of national mourning after the twin blasts close to Ankara’s main train station.
Some 160 people were under treatment as of Oct. 11 evening, with 65 of them being in intensive care in 19 separate hospitals in the capital, the Prime Ministry’s Coordination Center stated. Nine policemen were slightly injured.
The blasts were at two sides of the exit of the main train station in the city, where Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) supporters were gathering for a “Work, Peace and Democracy” march in the capital.
Although the identity of the culprits remains unknown, Davutoğlu said on Oct. 10 that there are “very strong signs” the Ankara blasts were carried out by two suicide bombers.
He initially cited the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), along with the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
Two senior security sources, however, said initial signs suggested that ISIL was behind the Ankara attack, adding that it bore striking similarity to a July suicide bombing in the town of Suruç near the Syrian border, which was also blamed on the radical Islamists.
“All signs indicate that the attack may have been carried out by ISIL. We are completely focused on ISIL,” one of the sources told Reuters.
Out of 508 patients, 317 people were discharged from the hospitals after their treatment, the report also added.
As the families were waiting in front of the hospitals and forensic buildings for good news from injured people, the Prime Minister’s center released the names of 77 people killed in the twin blasts. The dead bodies of 36 demonstrators were delivered to their families and some were also laid to rest across the country.
Blasts occurred ahead of a planned “peace” march organized by labor unions and a number of NGOs to protest the conflict between the state and militants of the outlawed PKK in southeast Turkey.
Organizers have cancelled the meeting, calling on participants from other cities to return. They also called on people to donate blood for the many injured people at Ankara hospitals.
The rally was organized by the Confederation of Public Sector Trades’ Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB).
Health Minister Mehmet Müezzionğlu said health teams moved in quickly, but “there might have been some disruptions, due to the extent of the attack and panic, which might have caused a rise in the death toll.”
However, Interior Minister Selami Altınok ruled out any responsibility, saying he was not considering resignation. “I hope to go to the ballot boxes under healthy conditions,” Altınok said, referring to Turkey’s upcoming re-elections on Nov. 1.
Separately, Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Ömer Çelik also said the attack targeted the elections. Reiterating that the AKP and its leader Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had suspended their election campaign activities for three days, Çelik underlined need for a “united stance.”
“This terrorist activity is aimed at creating chaos, instigating street movements and targeting the election environment. The attack aims to create trauma in society. It was extremely well planned and organized,” Çelik said.
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said in Istanbul that the attack was very similar to the two recent attacks in Diyarbakır and Suruç.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaorğlu said Turkey “does not deserve this,” also announcing that his party has cancelled all events during the mourning period. Kılıçdaroğlu and his wife Selvi left flowers at the scene on Oct. 11 but did not make any statement due to the mourning.