Date
24 May 2017
Police use tear gas and water cannon to disperse people protesting the double suicide bombing in Ankara. Photo: Reuters
Police use tear gas and water cannon to disperse people protesting the double suicide bombing in Ankara. Photo: Reuters

Turkey blames IS for bombing, vows election will go on

Turkey believes Islamic State is behind a double suicide bombing in Ankara that killed up to 128 people on Saturday.

However, opponents of President Tayyip Erdogan are blaming him for the worst such attack in Turkish history, Reuters reported.

Despite alarm over the attack on a rally of pro-Kurdish activists and civic groups, government officials said there would be no postponement of the November polls, which Erdogan hopes can restore an overall majority for his AK Party.

Thousands of people gathered near the scene of the attack at Ankara’s main railway station, many accusing Erdogan of stirring nationalist sentiment by his pursuit of a military campaign against Kurdish militants. Ankara vehemently rejects the allegation.

“Murderer Erdogan”, “murderer police”, the crowd chanted 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.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a major presence at Saturday’s march and holding seats in parliament, 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.

The attacks have shocked a nation beset by resurgent conflict with the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in its southeast and increasingly threatened by spillover from the war in neighboring Syria.

Islamic State fighters are encamped close to its borders, which mark also the frontier of the NATO alliance.

Last week Russia launched air strikes in Syria, its planes violating Turkish air space on several occasions.

Two senior security sources said initial signs suggested Islamic State was behind the Ankara attack, and that it bore striking similarity to a July suicide bombing in Suruc near the Syrian border, also blamed on the radical Islamists.

“All signs indicate that the attack may have been carried out by ISIL [Islamic State]. We are completely focused on ISIL,” one of the sources told Reuters.

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RA/CG

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