PM: ISIS prime suspect in Ankara bombing
The deadliest attack in the history of modern Turkey has claimed the lives of 97 people, at least 246 people were also wounded
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday said Turkey was investigating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group as the prime suspect in the bombings on a weekend peace rally in Ankara that killed 97 people.
“Looking at how the incident took place, we are probing Daesh as our first priority,” Davutoglu said, using an alternative Arabic acronym for ISIS.
He said that the attacks were definitely carried out by two suicide bombers.
“We are close to identifying one of the bombers,” he told NTV television, adding that this would help name the organization behind the attacks.
Davutoglu however remained cautious, saying that authorities were investigating three groups including Islamic State but also the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) as “potential suspects.”
“It would not be accurate to give an indication right now,” he said.
‘Two male suicide bombers’
Earlier, his office said in a statement that two male suicide bombers carried out the devastating twin bombings this weekend in Ankara as the toll rose to 97 dead.
It said that the attack, the deadliest in the history of modern Turkey, had claimed the lives of 97 people, raising slightly the previous toll of 95. At least 246 people were also wounded, dozens of whom were hospitalized in intensive care, according to Davutoglu's office.
Of those killed 92 have been identified and work is continuing to identify the five others, it added.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has claimed the toll is far higher at 128 but this has not been confirmed by the authorities.
Footage screened by broadcaster CNN Turk showed a line of young men and women holding hands and dancing, and then flinching as a large explosion flashed behind them, engulfing people carrying HDP and leftist party banners.
"Like other terror attacks, the one at the Ankara train station targets our unity, togetherness, brotherhood and future," said Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has vowed to crush a Kurdish militant insurgency since the collapse of a ceasefire and resumption of intense violence in July.
Witnesses said the two explosions happened seconds apart shortly after 10 a.m. as crowds, including HDP activists, leftists, labour unions and other civic groups, gathered for a planned march to protest over the deaths of hundreds since conflict resumed between security forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
"I heard one big explosion first and tried to cover myself as the windows broke. Right away there was the second one," said Serdar, 37, who was working at a newspaper stand in the train station. "There was shouting and crying and I stayed under the newspapers for a while. I could smell burnt flesh."
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on Monday urged Turkey to be “proportionate” in the way it responded to terrorist attacks even though it had suffered from crises in the Middle East more than any other NATO member.