At least 28 dead, 61 injured as blast hits military bus in Turkish capital Ankara
At least 28 people have been killed and 61 injured in a car explosion in Ankara, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister said. The blast happened in close to the parliament building, and reportedly targeted military personnel.
The scene of the explosion is located in the proximity of the national parliament, the Presidency of the General Staff, and Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard commands.
“We are very close to that place and we've heard two explosions,” one of the employees at a nearby hotel told RT by phone. “I went to the rooftop of our hotel and saw smoke… I saw a big fire. There is a military building around there… this was about 1km from us.”
A Turkish military general staff official has confirmed to Reuters the explosion targeted a bus carrying military personnel.
Social media users in Ankara say they heard a loud noise all across the city, and posted photos of a huge plume of smoke rising over downtown Eskisehir Avenue.
Omer Celik, a spokesperson for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on his Twitter account that the explosion was the result of a “cowardly terrorist attack.”
A Turkish government spokesman has said that the attack was well planned. President Recep Erdogan has postponed his upcoming visit to Azerbaijan in light of the incident.
Some 20 ambulances were sent to the scene of the blast, media reported, citing medical officials.
Witnesses reported helicopters circling the area above the blast.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said that the government has imposed a media gag order banning organizations from broadcasting or printing graphic images of those who were killed or injured in the explosion.
Meanwhile, NTV reported that there had been another explosion as bomb disposal experts destroyed a suspicious package discovered by police in a different area, near the Interior Ministry building.
There has been no claim of responsibility yet, however Turkish officials said they suspect that this was a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) attack.
Anonymous security sources in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast told Reuters they believed Islamic State militants (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) were behind the bombing.
#BREAKING Broadcast ban imposed on the incident in Ankara— Yunus Paksoy (@yunuspaksoy) 17 февраля 2016
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu canceled his trip to Brussels which was due later on Wednesday, an official in his office said.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has condemned the attack, which he called “terrorist” on his Twitter account.
Last October several explosions at a peace rally in the Turkish capital killed more than 100 people and injured dozens more. The explosions appeared to be the result of suicide bomb attacks.