Two massive bombs exploded almost simultaneously Saturday in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, killing at least 97 people and wounding hundreds more in the process, resulting in the deadliest terror attack in the history of post-Ottoman Turkey.
The terror attacks–which no group has taken credit for as of Saturday evening–were carried out during a peace rally hosted by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a far-left socialist group with 80 seats in the Turkish parliament. Some 14,000 people were in the immediate area as the bombs went off, according to reports.
“In total 97 people have been murdered, 68 of them died right after the blast, whereas 29 of them were severely wounded and sent to the hospital, where they lost their lives,” Dr. Huseyin Demirdezen, who heads the Turkish Medical Association, said of the most recent death count.
The blasts went off at about 10:00 a.m. local time, right outside of the train station in Ankara. Gathered in the area were Turkish and Kurdish opposition supporters and other activists who demonstrated against the government’s air campaigns in Syria.
In an address to his nation, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the attacks were the work of two suicide bombers. Turkey’s state-controlled media entities reported that the bombers strapped themselves with TNT and hardened the explosive devices with metal ball-bearings to inflict maximum casualties.
Davutoglu suspected that either radical Kurdish factions or the Islamic State terror group were behind the terrorist attack.
Turkey is part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, and Ankara is also in the midst of battles against far-left Kurdish rebels in Syria. Turkey has been engaged in a heavy-bombing campaign against the PKK–a marxist Kurdish faction in northern Syria–and has killed hundreds of its militants over the past few months.
The Turkish government has imposed a media blackout on the ongoing situation, though some media outlets are defying the government’s orders. Some within the country are reporting that the government has blocked select citizens from using Twitter and Facebook.
“The Turkish Prime Minister has imposed a temporary broadcast ban regarding the terror attack conducted in Ankara this morning,” read a statement from the Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television.
The U.S. State Department was among many international entities that immediately denounced the terrorist attack.
“The United States strongly condemns today’s heinous terrorist attack in Ankara, Turkey, ” read a statement from State Department spokesman John Kirby. “In light of the ongoing violence in Turkey and the region, it is particularly important at this time that all Turkish citizens recommit to peace and stand together against terror.
Additionally, President Obama has called Turkish President Recep Erdogan to express his condolences. He said that the United States will stand with Turkey, its NATO ally, in the fight against terrorism, according to reports.
The deadly slaughter comes just weeks before Turkey is scheduled to have national parliamentary elections, which will take place on November 1.