14 Mar 2016

34 dead in Turkish car bomb attack

10:36 am on 14 March 2016

A car bomb has exploded in the Turkish capital Ankara, with officials saying 34 people are dead including two suspected attackers.

Police work near ambulances after the deadly explosion in the Turkish capital on 14 March 2016 (NZT).

Police work near ambulances after the deadly explosion, which happened about 5.40am NZT. Photo: AFP

The explosion happened in Guvenpark in the district of Kizilay, a key transport hub and commercial area.

Several vehicles at the scene were reduced to burned-out wrecks, including at least one bus.

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu told a news conference that 30 people were killed at the scene and four died later in hospital, with two of the dead believed to be the attackers.

He said 125 people were being treated at several hospitals in Ankara, of whom 19 were in a critical condition.

Last month, a bomb attack on a military convoy in Ankara killed 28 people and wounded dozens more.

Newspaper Hurriyet said today's blast happened about 6.40pm (5.40am NZT) and the area was evacuated in case of a second attack. Many ambulances were at the scene, it added.

No group has yet claimed the attack. However, a security official told Reuters that initial findings suggested it was the work of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party or an affiliated group.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was reported to be convening an emergency security meeting.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in Istanbul, was briefed on the attack by the interior minister, Hurriyet reported. Mr Erdogan was expected to return to Ankara.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala said the investigation into the attack would be concluded on Monday and those behind the bombing would be named.

Police carry away one of the injured after a deadly explosion in the Turkish capital on 14 March 2016 (NZT).

Emergency service staff carry away one of the injured. Photo: AFP

BBC correspondent Mark Lowen in Istanbul said three attacks in the Turkish capital in less than six months showed the multiple security threats that Turkey now faced.

The country that was the stable corner of the Middle East and the West's crucial ally in a volatile region was now at a dangerous moment, he added.

It has emerged that the US Embassy in Ankara warned its citizens on 11 March of a "potential terrorist plot" in Ankara.

Last month's bombing was claimed by a Kurdish militant group, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks. The group said on its website that the attack was in retaliation for Mr Erdogan's policies.

Turkey, however, blamed a Syrian national who was a member of another Kurdish group.

Last October, more than 100 people were killed in a double-suicide bombing at a Kurdish peace rally in Ankara.

-BBC

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