Deadly explosions in Ankara: What do we know?

Twin bomb attacks target rally in capital of Turkey killing at least 95 people following PKK's announcement that they will declare ‘ceasefire’ starting on Sunday

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Saturday’s twin bomb attacks at a peace rally in Turkey’s capital Ankara have so far killed at least 95 people and wounded 246 others

Where did bombings happen?

The bombs went off near Ankara's main train station just outside a police checkpoint, before the crowd had fully gathered, preventing an even worse scenario.

The main train station had been designated as the gathering point for the “peace march” titled “Against War, Now Peace, Labor, Democracy,” to which several Turkish NGO's were expected to attend.

In a joint press conference on Saturday, Turkish Interior Ministry, Health Ministry, and Justice Ministry called the bombings a "terror attack."

Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu said there are strong indications that explosions were suicide bombings. Davutoglu also added that several suicide bombers have been apprehended over the last 3 days in Istanbul and Ankara.

How important is the timing of attack?

The attack came less than a day after a top representative of the outlawed PKK, Remzi Kartal said the militant group would announce a “ceasefire” on Sunday.

The outlawed PKK on late Friday night killed police officer Salih Eroglu, in the Hani district of Turkey's Diyarbakir province, while he was driving back home with his wife and three-year old child just after the “ceasefire” announcements.

Following the attack in Ankara, PKK's umbrella organisation the KCK immediately announced a ceasefire without waiting for Sunday.

Moreover, the explosion in Ankara came less than two weeks after PKK’s umbrella organisation, KCK's leader, Murat Karayilan threatened the Turkish state with carrying out terror attacks in metropolitan areas, if the government continued with anti-terror operations.

The PKK has declared a series of ceasefires in the past, including ahead of elections, with the supposed purpose of engaging in negotiations, but consistently switching their stance and continuing to commit terror attacks.

Are there examples of similar attacks in the past?

This is not the first time such a march has come under attack, previously an explosion had occurred at the People's Democratic Party’s (HDP) final election rally in Turkey’s Diyarbakir, as the party's leader Selahattin Demirtas was preparing to address the crowd on June 5.

Turkish police arrested a man suspected of placing the bomb in the meeting area. In his statement to the police, the suspect claimed to have received orders from ISIS to carry out the bombing.

The attack in which four people died and over 400 were injured came two days before Turkey went to the polls in the general election of June 7, where the HDP had the possibility to enter parliament for the first time as a party. 

On September 15, five PKK terrorists were caught while they were placing a bomb near an area in Viransehir district in southeastern province of Sanliurfa, where the HDP was going to organise a rally.

The PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, NATO, started its terror attacks on August 15, 1984, and so far has broken eight so-called ceasefires to this day.

PKK’s umbrella organisation, the KCK unilaterally ended a two-year-long ceasefire with the Turkish government on July 11.

Since then, over 140 security officials and more than 30 civilians have been murdered.