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Twin blasts at Ankara train station peace rally leave 86 dead, over 180 injured
Saturday October 10, 2015 10:54 PM, Agencies

Twin explosions targeted a peace rally in Turkey’s capital in the morning on Saturday, leaving at least 86 dead and 186 injured.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced three days of national mourning for the victims of Saturday's bombing in Ankara.

Although the identity of the culprits remains unknown, Davutoglu -- speaking on Saturday evening -- said there are "very strong signs" the Ankara blasts were carried out by two suicide bombers.

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu revealed the updated casualty figures at a news conference at the prime minister’s office in Ankara hours after the attack.

“At the scene, 62 people were killed and 24 succumbed to death in hospital,” he said. “Twenty-four people were severely injured.”

Of the 186 injured, Muezzinoglu said 28 were in intensive care units and 18 were currently undergoing surgery.

The number of dead makes the attack the deadliest in recent Turkish history.

The attack outside Ankara’s main train station targeted those gathering to attend a lunchtime demonstration to call for an end to the renewed conflict between the PKK terrorist organization and the Turkish state.

Approximately 14,000 people are understood to have been in the area at the time of the explosions. Officers are working to confirm the number of casualties, a spokesperson for Ankara police said.

A video on social media showed a ring of young people dancing and singing before an orange blast erupted in the background.

Following the attack, for which no group has claimed responsibility, bodies lay in front of the station on Hipodrum Street and paramedics tended to the injured as a police helicopter circled overhead.

Police later warned people to disperse over concerns of further explosions as rally organizers made pleas over loudhailers for people to give blood, an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene said.

The crisis desk at the president’s office later said the Turkish Red Crescent had not issued an appeal for blood donations.

Protest banners and flags littered the ground and members of the public helped carry the injured to ambulances and buses to take them to hospital.

Emergency services had raced to the scene following the explosions at 10.05 a.m. local time (0705GMT).

The health ministry said 56 ambulances and five air ambulance helicopters were sent to the scene of the blast. All of the capital’s hospitals have been treating the victims.

The blast area was quickly closed as police began their investigation.

People had gathered outside the station for a demonstration to be held in nearby Sihhiye Square, according to police. The rally, organized by the Confederation of Public Sector Trades' Unions (KESK), was to call for an end to the conflict between the PKK terrorist organization and the Turkish state.

Eye-witnesses said there were two consecutive blasts within seconds -- later confirmed by the interior ministry -- and there was an unconfirmed report that at least one suicide bomber was responsible.

The attack was carried out before the crowd reached Sihhiye Square, where police had established a security cordon.

In a statement, Ankara’s chief public prosecutor said an investigation was underway with five prosecutors taking charge.

Train services were delayed at the train station after the blast, Turkish State Railways said. Several windows of the station were shattered by the force of the blasts.

The blast occurred amid renewed violence between the PKK and the Turkish state.

Turkey is preparing for a general election on Nov. 1 to break the political deadlock that resulted from June's election, which was marred by violence including a bomb attack on a Peoples' Democratic Party rally that killed four people.

Meanwhile, Turkey has imposed a temporary ban on showing images of Saturday’s bomb attack in Ankara for reasons of “public security”.

The ban also includes images of the aftermath of attack on a peace protest outside the city’s main train station.

The Supreme Board of Radio and Television said the prime minister’s office decided to impose the ban.

In a written statement, the board said the ban was imposed due to “security reasons” and “public security”. Such bans are usually put in place to prevent the spread of what the government refers to as terrorist propaganda.

Broadcasters can still cover statements about the twin blasts and air commentary.


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