At least 86 people died in two explosions that shook a road junction in the center of the Turkish capital of Ankara on Oct. 10, the largest signle terror attack in the country’s history, ahead of a “peace” meeting, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzionğlu said nearly six hours after the attack.
The minister said during a televized press meeting that 62 people died at the attack scene in addition to 24 people who died at the hospitals.
Some 18 people were under surgery as 28 others were in intensive care, the minister said.
9 policemen injured slightly.
The minister said health teams moved in dynamically, but the “there might have been some disruptions, due to the extent of the attack and panic, which might have caused in rise in death toll.”
However, Interior Minister Selami Altınok ruled out any responsibility, saying that he did not consider resignation.
Altınok said there was some brief information on the type of the attack and the organization behind it, but he would not share it due to intelligence concerns.
“I hope to go to the ballot boxes under healthy conditions,” said the minister, referring to the Nov. 1 re-elections.
Seperately, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ömer Çelik also said the attack aimed at the elections. Reiterating that the AKP and its leader Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu suspended their election campaign activities for three days, Çelik underlined need for a “united stance.”
“This terrorist activity is aimed at creating chaos, instigating certain street movements and the election environment. We should calmly fail these attempt,” he said.
“The attack aims at creating trauma among the society. It is extremely planned and organized. We are passing through the biggest grievances of our history. It is virtually an attempt of massacre. It aims at shaping civil dynamics of Turkey. It aims at turning Turkey into an inward-oriented mood at a time when there are very important foreign policy developments taking place. This attack which took place in Ankara may take place at anywhere, there is need for a joint stance,” the spokeperson said.
“We do not consider this attack as launched at a certain group or party, this attack is launched against all colors of Turkey.”
The cause of the blasts was not immediately clear.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported that it could be a suicide bomber, as eye witnesses said human flesh was all over the scene.
Blasts occurred ahead of a planned “peace” march organized by labor unions and a number of NGOs to protest against the conflict between the state and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (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 numbers of injured people at Ankara hospitals.
The police emptied the scene to avoid more casualties in any possible third attack.
The police fired in the air to disperse protesters from the scene. Demonstrators angered by the attack on their fellow activists shouted “police murderers,” AFP reported, but were then dispersed as the security forces intervened.
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said in Istanbul that the attack was very similar to the two recent attacks in Diyarbakır and Suruç. “The toll is very high,” he said.
On June 5, two days before the general elections that took HDP to the parliament as a party group, four people died in a twin bomb attack on a HDP rally in Diyarbakır, one of the strongholds of the party in the southeast, where Demirtaş was scheduled to address the crowd. He had called calm after the attack.
Turkey is now heading for a re-election, as the former election failed to produce a one-party or coalition government.
A sum of 33 people died in a July 20 attack on a socialist youth group by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the southeastern district of Suruç.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaorğlu said Turkey does not deserve this, also announcing that his party has cancelled all events today.
The party is ready to lend any support to end terrorism, he said. “We are ready with all our power,” he said.
“We have to spend joint efforts,” he said.
CHP deputy leader Gürsel Tekin said a number of lawmakers from his party were planning to attend the meeting to lend support for the call for peace. Musa Kart, one of those deputies, shared the photo of an iron shot on the social media, saying that such pieces dropped from the air.
Council of Europe Secretary General Jagland has condemned the attack.
“The news from Ankara this morning is shocking and disturbing. This is a ruthless and barbaric attack on peaceful demonstrators. I express my condolences to all who have lost their friends and loved ones. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are fundamental pillars of democracy”, said Jagland in a written statement.