Twin blasts shook Ankara’s main train station Saturday morning just hours before a pro-Kurdish peace rally, claiming the lives of at least 86 people and wounding nearly 200.
The explosions occurred near the main exit of the railway station in the Ulus district of Turkey’s capital, presumably to cause a high death toll among likely participants at the rally.
The rally was organized by pro-Kurdish and leftist political parties. Police reportedly had to fire warning shots into the air to disperse angry crowds at the scene of the blasts.
The two explosions occurred several minutes apart, according to witnesses.
Bodies of victims were covered with yellow flags of the HDP and clothes were scattered around.
The leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas, told reporters the death toll would likely be heavy. He compared the attack to two bombings earlier this year that struck in the mainly Kurdish towns of Diyarbakir and Suruç in southeast Turkey.
“We are witnessing a huge massacre. An atrocious and barbarian attack was carried out,” Demirtas said.
HDP party activists Tweeted that there were “numerous dead and injured.” They also accused the police of attacking people trying to carry the wounded away.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group declared a halt to guerrilla activities in Turkey.
The group made the announcement on October 10, saying its fighters would avoid actions that could prevent a “fair and just” election being held in Turkey on November 1.
Istanbul Armenian injured in Ankara blast
An Istanbul Armenian was injured in the powerful blast that hit Turkish capital Ankara on Saturday.
According to Arevelk.am 21 year old Rudi Sayat Pulatian, student of Middle East Technical University of Ankara and member of the Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, sustained injuries to his leg and is currently recuperating in a local hospital.
The young man thanked everyone who was interested in his health and said he had broken his leg.