Ankara: At least 34 were killed while 125 wounded people were at hospitals after an explosion hit central Ankara on March 13, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu has said in a press conference. A bomb-laden car caused the blast, the announcement Interior Minister Efkan Ala said at the same conference after a security meeting in Ankara.
30 people were killed at the scene of the incident while four others died on their way to the hospital, Müezzinoğlu said, adding that one or two of them could be the attackers.
Some 19 people were in critical condition as seven were in surgery, he said.
Minister Ala said a clear announcement about the organizers of the attack could be announced on March 14.
The area was evacuated as a precaution against a second attack.
The wounded persons were transferred to 10 different hospitals across Ankara, private broadcaster CNN Türk has reported.
The blast took place where around 10 bus stops are located.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was in Istanbul, was briefed by the Interior Minister Ala about the blast on the phone, according to presidency sources. Erdoğan condemned the attack in a written statement, adding that “Turkey has become a target of terror attacks due to the instabilities in the region.”
Turkey will continue its determined fight against terrorism, he said.
“Terror attacks – which intend to target the integrity of Turkey, unity and solidarity of our people – do not diminish our will to fight against terror, but further boost it,” he added.
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has declared a broadcasting ban on images of the scene and victims.
The U.S. had warned its citizens in a March 11 statement over a potential terror attack in Ankara.
“The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that there is information regarding a potential terrorist plot to attack Turkish government buildings and housing located in the Bahçelievler area of Ankara. U.S. citizens should avoid this area,” read the stamenet.
In a statement after the attack, the embassy said the soruce of the information in the warning was Turkish authorities and it was a routine procedure.
“Last week, the U.S. Embassy became aware of threat information through a Turkish government warning circulating in social media. After confirming the warning with Turkish authorities, Embassy issued a notice to all American citizens in Ankara – both government employees and private citizens – and to Turkish employees of the U.S. Embassy, as we routinely do when we learn of Turkish government information about threats,” the satetement read.
This is the third major blast to hit the Turkish capital since October 2015.
Alleged Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants bombed a peace rally near the Ankara Railway Station in a major city thoroughfare and left at least 103 dead on Oct. 10, 2015.
Four months later, a suicide car bomb attack targeted military shuttles in the capital city on Feb. 17, killing at least 29 people and injuring 81 others.
Turkey will develop a new security approach and mechanism for the capital city of Ankara, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, following a nearly five-hour security meeting with his seniors and officials on Feb. 20 in the aftermath of a Feb. 17 car bomb attack.
“Every province has special [security] needs,” the prime minister said, adding that Ankara had a special position as it was the capital hosting many government, state and opposition buildings, along with envoys of many countries.
Elaborating on the new mechanism, Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said technology would be used more in the implementation of the new security mechanism.
“That would be more prominent. Civil servants will be in official uniforms… Electronic devices will be used more,” Ala said on Feb. 21.
Parliament building will also be surrounded by high-security metal fences.