The death toll is mounting by the hour from a car bomb attack on a bus stop in Ankara, Turkey. As of 5:00 PM Eastern time on Sunday, there were at least 32 fatalities, plus 75 wounded.
“The blast, which could be heard several kilometers away, sent burning debris showering down over an area a few hundred meters from the Justice and Interior Ministries, a top courthouse, and the former office of the prime minister,” Reuters reported.
One witness is quoted by Fox News saying that the force of the blast threw passengers backward in the bus he was riding in, resulting in some minor injuries. The more severely injured have been dispersed to almost a dozen different hospitals for treatment.
The BBC reports that “several vehicles at the scene were reduced to burned-out wrecks, including at least one bus.”
Sky News reports that Australia’s ambassador to Turkey, James Larsen, narrowly avoided being caught in the blast. He was sitting in his car at an intersection about 20 meters away when the detonation occurred. “He is fine, obviously shaken by what he saw, we don’t believe there are any foreigners that have been killed or injured in the attack but investigations are still under way,” said Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
According to Haaretz, the Turkish Health Minister said “at least one or two of the casualties were the perpetrators of the attack.”
In addition to establishing a police cordon around the area, Turkish officials also shut down Facebook, Twitter, and other social media services that were displaying pictures of the explosion and its aftermath, according to Reuters.
A senior Turkish security official told Reuters the attack was most likely carried out by the separatist PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), and an allied group called the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks or TAK. The TAK claimed responsibility for a previous car bombing in February that killed 29 people. Today’s bombing is the third car bomb attack to hit Ankara in six months, plus a January suicide bombing in Istanbul.
Another official claimed the bomb was delivered in a BMW automobile, driven from the town of Viransehir in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey.
The mainstream pro-Kurdish opposition party in Turkey, the HDP – frequently accused by high government officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of being in league with the PKK – denounced the bombing as a “savage attack.”