Thousands of Turkish citizen are mourning the deaths of 95 people who perished in the country’s deadliest bomb attack in decades. The blasts that rocked the country ended a peaceful demonstration seeking the end of hostilities between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatists, a long standing war that has led to the deaths of thousands.
On Sunday, thousands gathered in Turkey’s capital Ankara to mourn and lay flowers in honor of those who had died during the twin blasts which went off during a rally on Saturday.
The twin blasts tore through the capital, just a few feet away from Ankara’s central train station, disrupting a peaceful rally in support of a ceasefire between the Turkish government and separatist PKK militants. The Turkish government has given the official death toll at 95 with 250 injured.
Just earlier, PKK had declared a ceasefire, calling upon its fighters to halt all guerilla activities except in cases of self-defense. Despite the ceasefire, the Turkish government on Sunday went ahead to carry out airstrikes against PKK bases in south east Turkey and northern Iraq, killing at least 49.
Scuffles with police occurred when mourners tried to lay flowers on the two sites. Tensions were visibly high as the mourners expressed anger over the government’s glaring security failures. Concerns over an escalation in violence are causing worry in the Middle Eastern country in the run up to elections that are just three weeks away.
Security officials have since banned public gatherings indefinitely.
Though no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, government security officials are pointing fingers at ISIS. Two senior Turkish officials said the blasts were similar to another blast attack by ISIS in July that killed 30 people.
One of the sources said, “All signs indicate that the attack may have been carried out by Isil [IS]. We are completely focused on ISIL.”
Turkish prime minister Ahmet Navutoglu sought to unite divided Turks in a televised address on Sunday by saying, “This is an attack that does not target a specific group; it is an attack on the entire nation and (an) attack on our unity. Turkey is a country that has managed to maintain peace in the region.”
The attack on Sunday has been described by many as a heinous crime that preyed on defenseless peace-meaning citizens. Only through cooperation between security forces can long lasting peace be found.