ANKARA Turkish investigators worked on Sunday to identify the perpetrators and victims of Saturday’s bomb blasts which killed at least 95 people in the capital Ankara, while Turks mourned the most deadly attack of its kind on Turkish soil.
Two suspected suicide bombers hit a rally of pro-Kurdish and labor activists near Ankara’s main train station three weeks before elections, fuelling unease in a country beset by conflict between state forces and Kurdish militants in the southeast.
“We are in mourning for peace,” said the front-page headline in the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper as three days of national mourning declared by the prime minister got underway. Other papers voiced public anger over the attack.
“Scum attacked in Ankara,” said the Haberturk newspaper. “The goal is to divide the nation,” said the pro-government Star.
One of the bombers had been identified as a male aged between 25-30 after analyzing bodies at the scene and taking fingerprints, the pro-government Yeni Safak said.
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.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, exposing a mosaic of domestic political perils, said Islamic State, Kurdish or far-leftist militants could have carried out the bombing.
His 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.
“The necessary work is being conducted to identify those behind the attack and quickly bring them to justice,” the statement said.
Relatives and friends of the casualties waited anxiously on Sunday morning outside the hospitals where the wounded were being treated.
The two blasts happened seconds apart on Saturday morning as crowds, including pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) activists, leftists, labor unions and other civic groups, gathered for a march to protest over the deaths of hundreds since conflict resumed between security forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Hours after the bombing, the PKK as widely expected beforehand ordered its fighters to halt operations in Turkey unless they faced attack. It said it would avoid acts that could hinder a “fair and just election” on Nov. 1.
(Writing by Daren Butler; editing by Susan Thomas)