- Over 125 hurt in third blast targeting Ankara since October
- Explosion was about 200 meters from prime minister's office
A suicide car bomb in Turkey’s capital killed at least 34 people and wounded many more, the third time the city has been hit in five months.
Two public buses were completely burned out in Sunday’s blast in Ankara, which occurred near a bus station about 200 meters (650 feet) from Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office at around 7 p.m. local time. Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said at least 125 people were injured, with 19 in serious condition. Police immediately cordoned off the area near Ankara’s Guvenpark as authorities investigated.
The explosion comes less than a month after a Feb. 17 car bombing near military buildings in the capital killed at least 30 people, most of them soldiers. That attack was claimed by a group called the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK, which is linked to Kurdish PKK separatists. A pair of Islamic State suicide bombers in October killed more than 100 people in Ankara.
TAK has pledged to stage armed attacks across Turkey in response to recent urban warfare against PKK militia in the country’s southeast. The Turkish government blames the PKK or an affiliate for the bombing, TRT World reported, without saying where it obtained the information. Suspects might be announced as early as Monday, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said after attending a security summit led by Davutoglu.
No Longer Secure
“In 2016, with a combination of regional conflict as well as threats from Islamic State and Kurdish militants in the southeast, Turkey is increasingly seen as part of the Middle East rather than an island of security outside of it,” Jonathan Friedman, an assistant director at global risk consultant Stroz Friedberg, said by e-mail.
Sunday’s blast blew out the windows of cars and buildings hundreds of meters from the site, where bodies were clearly visible shortly after the attack. Davutoglu summoned top security and intelligence officials for a meeting in Ankara following the explosion, CNNTurk television said.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara two days ago warned of a terrorist plot against Turkish government buildings and lodgings in the Bahcelievler area of Ankara, citing what it described as specific information.
The U.S. “strongly” condemned the attack on Sunday, saying it remains committed to “combating the shared threat of terrorism” with NATO ally Turkey, according to an e-mailed statement by the State Department.