At least 86 people were killed when two suspected suicide bombers hit a rally of anti-government pro-Kurdish and leftist activists outside Ankara’s main train station on Saturday, in the deadliest attack of its kind on Turkish soil.
Bodies covered by flags and banners, including those of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), lay scattered on the road among bloodstains and body parts.
“Like other terror attacks, the one at the Ankara train station targets our unity, togetherness, brotherhood and future,” President Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement, calling for “solidarity and determination”.
Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu told a news conference that 86 people had been killed and 186 wounded, 28 of whom were in intensive care. The death toll could rise further.
Witnesses said the two explosions happened seconds apart shortly after 10 a.m. as hundreds gathered for a planned march to protest over a conflict between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants in the southeast.
Authorities announced earlier they were investigating claims the attacks were carried out by a suicide bomber, two government officials told Reuters. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was due to hold an emergency meeting with the heads of the police and intelligence agencies and other senior officials, his office said.
Turkey launched air strikes on Kurdish rebels in response to what it said were rising attacks on the security forces. Hundreds have since died.
The attacks come three weeks ahead of a parliamentary election in Turkey and at a time of multiple security threats, not only in the restive southeast but also from ISIL militants in neighboring Syria and home-grown leftist militants.