Thousands protest as Turkey mourns 95 killed in blasts

People march to protest the double suicide bombing in Ankara that killed up to 128 people in Diyarbakir, Turkey, on Oct 11, 2015.
People march to protest the double suicide bombing in Ankara that killed up to 128 people in Diyarbakir, Turkey, on Oct 11, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA • Thousands of people took to the streets of Ankara on Sunday to denounce the government and to remember 95 people killed in twin suspected suicide bombings at a peace rally, as Turkey mourned its worst terrorist attack.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared three days of national mourning, with flags flying at half mast across the country, as questions grew over who might have planned the attack.

Saturday's attacks intensified tensions in Turkey ahead of snap elections on Nov 1, as the military wages an offensive against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremists and Kurdish militants.

 

"A bomb into our hearts," read a headline in Hurriyet daily.

Thousands of demonstrators filled Sihhiye Square in central Ankara, close to the site of the blasts, with some shouting anti- government slogans.

Several demonstrators blamed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the bombings, shouting "Er-dogan murderer", "Government resign!" and "The state will give account".

Mr Erdogan condemned the "heinous" attack in a statement, and cancelled a visit to Turkmenistan.

But he has yet to speak in public after the bombings. The Premier's office said that 95 people were killed when the bombs exploded just after 10am (3pm Singapore time) as leftist and pro-Kurdish activists gathered for a peace rally outside Ankara's train station.

The office said that 508 people were wounded, with 160 still in hospital and 65 in intensive care in 19 hospitals.

An Agence France-Presse correspondent said that the scene of the bombings was littered with ball bearings, indicating that the explosions were intended to cause maximum damage.

The death toll surpassed that of the May 2013 twin bombings in Reyhanli on the Syrian border that killed more than 50 people, making the attack the deadliest in the history of the Turkish republic.

Mr Davutoglu said no group had claimed responsibility for the bombings, and there have so far been no arrests by the authorities.

But two senior Turkish security sources told Reuters on Sunday that Saturday's bombings bore striking similarities to a suicide bombing in July in the town of Suruc, near the Syrian border, which was blamed on ISIS.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2015, with the headline 'Thousands protest as Turkey mourns 95 killed in blasts'. Print Edition | Subscribe