Thousands of Turkish citizens gathered in central Ankara a day after twin bombings targeted a peace rally in the city, killing over a hundred civilians in an attack that demonstrators and mourners blamed squarely on the government of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Witnesses and victims’ families, as well as opposition parties, ascribed direct responsibility to the government for allegedly failing to provide any security measures ahead of the peace rally, saying police officers who arrived at the scene after the bombing fired teargas at grieving families who rushed there to inquire about their loved ones.
They also blamed Erdoğan’s government for allegedly sowing chaos ahead of next month’s parliamentary polls, either to delay the elections and retain power for his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), or to increase his chances of securing a broader majority in the elections to maintain security.
“We are grieving, we are saddened, but we are also furious,” the Kurdish opposition leader, Selahattin Demirtas, told a rally in Sihhiye Square in central Ankara. “We will struggle, fight, and win back the democracy.”
Demonstrators shouted slogans condemning the Turkish president, chanting “chief and murderer Erdoğan” and “death to fascism”.
Brief scuffles earlier broke out as police used teargas to prevent people from laying red carnations at the site of the attack, the deadliest terrorist strike on Turkish soil in recent history. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic party (HDP) said said some members of its delegation sustained injuries.
Organisers searched the demonstration’s attendees and patted them down to avoid a repeat of the previous day’s attack as tension and anger rose at the previous day’s bloody events.
According to the HDP, the number of people killed in the bombing stands at 128, all but eight of whom have been identified and their names published by the HDP’s crisis desk.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, and the government has denied any part in it. The prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, cited the political upheaval in both Turkey and Syria and said the attack could have been carried out by Islamic State, Kurdish militants or radical leftist groups.