Turkish police clash with activists marking one-year anniversary of deadly Ankara bombing

Turkish police use tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd during the commemoration of the 1st anniversary of Ankara bombings of 2015, on Oct 10, 2016.
Turkish police use tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd during the commemoration of the 1st anniversary of Ankara bombings of 2015, on Oct 10, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

ANKARA (AFP) - Turkish police used tear gas and plastic bullets to stop pro-Kurdish activists who were holding a protest to mark the one-year anniversary on Monday (Oct 10) of the country's worst attack in its modern history.

One hundred and three people were killed on October 10, 2015, when suicide bombers said to be linked to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists blew themselves up in a crowd of pro-Kurdish peace activists planning to hold a rally outside Ankara's main train station.

Nearly 500 people were wounded, some of whom are still receiving treatment.

A crowd of more than 150 chanted "murderous state" as a line of police and water cannon trucks refused to let them through to the site of the attack to commemorate the one-year anniversary, according to an Agence France-Presse correspondent.

Hundreds of people carrying placards and flags from different associations were also stopped by a group of at least 20 police officers carrying anti-riot shields.

Police then used tear gas and plastic bullets against the group, some of whom threw bottles and stones. Some were hit by police truncheons as they scattered, covering their mouths to limit the effects of the tear gas.

Demonstrators said relatives of the victims - including parents and children - had been allowed through to pay their respects at the site of the attack before the commemoration began.

When the moment came to pause for silence at the precise time of the attack at 10.04am (3.04pm Singapore time), the crowd burst into applause, vowing that they would not let it ever be forgotten.

There has been considerable frustration among relatives of those killed over the slowness of the investigation; no one has been brought to justice over the attack.

The attack came at a time of considerable social tension in Turkey as the government wages a crackdown against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its supporters.