ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Developments relating to Saturday’s deadly bombing of a peace rally in the Turkish capital of Ankara. All times local.
Turkey’s government has raised the death toll in twin bomb blasts in the Turkish capital to 95.
A government statement late Saturday also raised the number of people wounded in the explosions that targeted a peace rally in Ankara to 245. It said 48 of them were in serious condition.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were “strong signs” that the explosions were suicide bombings and suggested that Kurdish rebels or Islamic State group militants could be responsible.
A bomb disposal officer inspects a suspected suitcase that proved to be empty at the scene of an explosion in Ankara, Turkey. Image AP
Turkey’s state-run news agency says that President Barack Obama has called Turkey’s president to extend his condolences over the bomb blasts that killed 97 people at a peace rally in Ankara.
The Anadolu Agency, citing unnamed officials, said Obama told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the United States would continue to side with Turkey in the fight against terrorism. It quoted Obama as saying the U.S. “shared Turkey’s grief.”
Erdogan earlier said the twin bombings Saturday were aimed at destroying Turkey’s “peace and stability.”
Anadolu said the two leaders agreed to hold more comprehensive talks in the coming days.
Turkey’s medical association says at least 97 people have been killed in two simultaneous bomb blasts that targeted a peace rally in the Turkish capital.
Selcuk Atalay, of the Turkish Medical Association’s Ankara branch said Saturday he feared the death toll could reach even higher in the coming days, saying several of the injured were in serious condition with burns.
The official death toll, announced by Turkey’s health minister, still stood at 86 killed and 186 wounded.
The explosions occurred seconds apart outside Ankara’s main train station Saturday just after 10 a.m. as hundreds gathered for the rally by opposition supporters and Kurdish activists.
British Prime Minister David Cameron used Twitter to say that he had expressed condolences about the deadly peace rally attack to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
“My thoughts are with the victims and their families,” Cameron said.
The director of Britain’s counter-terrorism police unit says British police are providing “ongoing support” to investigators in Turkey after Saturday’s deadly explosions in Ankara.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, who heads the police counter-terrorism department, said British police are working closely with Turkish investigators. He urged anyone in Britain’s “affected” communities with information about Saturday’s attack in Turkey to contact the police anti-terrorist hotline.
“We are deeply saddened to hear” of the deadly explosions, he said, offering condolences to Turkey and to the substantial Turkish community in Britain.
British police have been working with Turkish police to try to prevent Britons from traveling to Turkey and then into Syria to join Islamic State extremists.
About a thousand people, primarily Kurds, have held an impromptu rally in Paris to show support for victims of the Ankara bombings.
Somberly holding aloft photos from Saturday’s attack on a peace rally that left 86 people dead and scores wounded, the group marched at the expansive Republique plaza in central Paris.
Paris has a large and active Kurdish community.
French President Francois Hollande, meanwhile, offered his condolences to the Turkish people and condemned “the attack that cost the lives of dozens of protesters in Ankara.”
The United States says the fact that deadly bombing in Turkey’s capital targeted a planned peace rally underscores the depravity of those who carried it out.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, says the U.S. will stand with the Turkish government and its people in the fight against terrorism. He says horrific acts like Saturday’s bombing in Ankara will only make nations more determined to confront terrorism.
Two explosions Saturday targeted a peace rally by opposition supporters and Kurdish activists in Ankara, killing 86 people and wounding 186. Turkey’s prime minister says the attacks likely were suicide bombings.
Price says the U.S. condemns the bombing and offers its condolences to the loved ones of the victims.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sent her condolences to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, calling the attacks that killed scores in Ankara “particularly cowardly acts that were aimed directly at civil rights, democracy and peace.”
Two nearly simultaneous explosions on Saturday targeted a rally in Ankara by opposition supporters and Kurdish activists who were calling for equality and non-violence. Turkish officials say at least 86 people were killed and nearly 190 wounded.
Merkel says the attack “is an attempt at intimidation and an attempt to spread fear.” She says “I am convinced that the Turkish government and all of Turkish society stands together at this time with a response of unity and democracy to this terror.”
Turkey’s government says it has imposed a temporary news blackout following two blasts that killed 86 people at a peace rally in Ankara, the capital. The attack was Turkey’s deadliest in recent years.
A government spokesman said the blackout Saturday covers images showing the moment of the blast, gruesome or bloody images or “images that create a feeling of panic.”
He warned media organizations they could face a “full blackout” if they did not comply.
On Saturday, many people in Ankara reported being unable to access Twitter and other social media websites after the blasts. It was not clear if authorities had blocked access to the websites.
Turkey frequently imposes blackouts following attacks.