Turkey bomb blasts: Islamic State and ‘far-left militants’ emerge as suspects

Prime minister leads three days of national mourning as investigators search for terrorists behind deadliest attack in Turkish history

Turkish investigators have so far failed to identify the perpetrators of a terrorist attack on a pro-Kurdish peace rally in the capital city, which killed nearly 100 people and injured scores more.

Twin explosions thought to have been triggered by suicide bombers targeted the march, near Ankara’s main train station, on Saturday morning. The resulting death toll made it the deadliest attack in Turkish history and has sparked three days of national mourning.

The attack, which is believed to have killed mainly pro-Kurdish and labour activists, came three weeks before elections and fuels unease in a country beset by conflict between state forces and Kurdish militants in the south-east.

“We are in mourning for peace,” said the front-page headline in the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper as three days of national mourning declared by the prime minister got under way. Other papers voiced public anger over the attack.

“Scum attacked in Ankara,” said the Haberturk newspaper. “The goal is to divide the nation,” said the pro-government Star.

One of the bombers had been identified as a male aged 25-30 after analysing bodies at the scene and taking fingerprints, the pro-government Yeni Safak said.

There were no claims of responsibility for the attack, which came as external threats mount for Nato member Turkey with increased fighting across its border with Syria and incursions by Russian warplanes on its air space over the last week.

The Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, exposing a mosaic of domestic political perils, said Islamic State, Kurdish or far-leftist militants could have carried out the bombing. Experts have said it is unlikely left-wing groups would be behind the attack.

Davutoglu’s office named 52 of the victims overnight and said autopsies were continuing. It said 246 wounded people were still being treated, 48 of them in intensive care. “The necessary work is being conducted to identify those behind the attack and quickly bring them to justice,” the statement said.

Relatives and friends of the casualties waited anxiously on Sunday morning outside the hospitals where the wounded were being treated.

The two blasts happened seconds apart on Saturday morning as crowds, including pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) activists, leftists, labour unions and other civic groups, gathered for a march to protest over the deaths of hundreds since conflict resumed between security forces and the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) in the mainly Kurdish south-east.

Hours after the bombing, the PKK as widely expected beforehand ordered its fighters to halt operations in Turkey unless they faced attack. It said it would avoid acts that could hinder a “fair and just election” on 1 November. – The Guardian

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