Turkey Bombing: At least 86 dead after blasts at peace rally in Turkey

Posted on October 10, 2015

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by Bradley Matthews, editing by Adam MS

Two bombs targeting a crowd of peace marchers Saturday in the Turkish capital Ankara have killed at least 86 people and injured 186 others, Turkey’s health minister said, according to the Associated Press.

The explosions detonated minutes apart at a morning peace rally organized by civil society groups, reports said. One video circulating on social media appeared to show a bomb exploding behind a group of demonstrators dancing at a gathering point outside Ankara’s main train station. Another video posted to the Web site of CNN’s Turkish-language service showed surveillance footage of people fleeing a fiery explosion at a public square in the background.

It was unclear if the bombs were suicide attacks or detonated remotely, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called an emergency cabinet meeting Saturday, local media said.

Turkey has been hit by a fresh wave of violence as government troops battle ethnic Kurdish separatists waging a guerrilla campaign for more autonomy. The two sides have fought for more than 30 years, but a fragile cease-fire fell apart this summer when a suicide bomber set-off his explosives at another rally of peace activists in the ethnic Kurdish town of Suruc on Turkey’s border with Syria.

The Kurds blamed Turkish authorities for failing to protect them from what they said was violent spillover from Syria’s civil war. Turkey began an air campaign against militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at their hideouts in northern Iraq. Inside Turkey, the separatists have ambushed and killed Turkish troops and set off bombs outside security installations.

Saturday’s rally had been organized as a pro-peace demonstration against the recent violence. Images from the scene showed dazed and bloody demonstrators clinging to one another in the aftermath of the blast. AP reported that its photographer saw several bodies covered with flags and banners that protesters had brought with them for the march.

“There was a massacre in the middle of Ankara,” Lami Ozgen, head of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, told AP.

Police set up a cordon around the area, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

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