Pro-Kurdish politicians, protesters rally near site of deadly Ankara bombings

Pro-Kurdish opposition leaders and thousands of people gather in central Ankara near the scene of twin blasts that killed at least 95 people.

ANKARA, TURKEY (OCTOBER 11, 2015) (REUTERS) – The leader and members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) joined thousands of people gathered in central Ankara on Sunday (October 11), near the scene of the bombings which killed at least 95 people.

The twin suspected suicide blasts hit a rally of pro-Kurdish and labour activists near Ankara’s main train station on Saturday (October 10), three weeks before an election, shocking a nation beset by conflict between the state and Kurdish militants.

Angry demonstrators rallied near the train station, many chanting anti-government slogans, including: “AKP explain to the people!” and “Thief. Killer. (President Tayyip) Erdogan.”

The crowd rallied in Sihhiye square, as riot police backed by water cannon vehicles blocked a main highway leading to the district where parliament and government buildings are located.

HDP, a major presence at Saturday’s march, said police attacked its leaders and members as they tried to leave carnations at the scene. Some were hurt in the melee, it said in a statement.

HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas, who blamed the government in blunt terms for the incident, walked amongst the crowd of demonstrators, surrounded by other members of the party and heads of NGOs.

The government denies any suggestion of involvement.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Islamic State, Kurdish militant factions or far-leftist radicals could have carried out the bombing.

Turkish investigators worked on Sunday to identify the perpetrators and victims of the attack.

One of the bombers had been identified as a male aged between 25-30 after analysing bodies at the scene and taking fingerprints, the pro-government Yeni Safak said.

Initial indications suggest Islamic State was responsible for twin bombings in the Turkish capital Ankara and investigations are focusing on the radical Islamist group, two senior Turkish security sources told Reuters on Sunday.

One of the sources said Saturday’s bombings, which a pro-Kurdish opposition party said had killed 128 people, bore striking similarities to a suicide bombing in July in the town of Suruc near the Syrian border, also blamed on Islamic State.

There were no claims of responsibility for the attack, which came as external threats mount for NATO member Turkey, with increased fighting across its border with Syria and incursions by Russian warplanes on its air space over the last week.

Davutoglu’s office named 52 of the victims overnight and said autopsies were continuing. It said 246 wounded people were still being treated, 48 of them in intensive care.