Explosions in Turkish Capital Are Believed to Be Terrorism
ISTANBUL -- A bombing attack in central Ankara on Tuesday killed three people and wounded at least 34, the interior minister said, in the first deadly bombing in Turkey's capital in more than four years. Three of the wounded were in critical condition late Tuesday.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The attack took place before noon in the busiest part of Ankara's downtown district, an area heavy with automobile and pedestrian traffic, leading officials to speculate that the bombing was meant to inflict as much harm as possible on passers-by. The chief prosecutor's office said in a statement that the nature of the attack suggested that it was the work of terrorists.
"This is an attack that did not focus on a specific target," said the interior minister, Idris Naim Sahin. "Anyone could be a target, and there is no divide between babies or elderly, police or regular citizens. The target is the Turkish citizen and Turkey as a whole."
The attack took the form of a chain reaction of explosions, beginning in a car equipped with a tank of liquefied petroleum gas and spreading to other parked cars with similar tanks, Mr. Sahin said. Security officials cordoned off the area while bomb squads searched other parked cars and buildings along the street.
Bulent Tanik, the mayor of Cankaya, the Ankara district where the explosions occurred, told Turkish television that witnesses saw a burning gasoline can being thrown out of a window of a nearby building and landing on a car, setting off the blasts. Video images of the scene showed at least four cars on fire, shop windows shattered and smoke rising above the neighborhood, where there are several government offices.
The chief prosecutor's office, however, supported earlier reports that the initial blast could have been caused by explosives placed in a car. A school nearby was immediately evacuated, news reports said.
The president of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, who was in Germany on Tuesday on an official visit, denounced the attack.
Some news outlets speculated that urban wings of the PKK, the Kurdish separatist group, might have been responsible for the bombings. The Turkish military recently began air operations in an area of northern Iraq where the PKK has been based, a step that many analysts said would further hamper efforts to resolve the conflict between the government and the Kurdish separatists, which has remained unresolved after more than 25 years of armed struggle.
The last fatal bombing in Ankara occurred in 2007, when an explosion killed six people in a busy shopping area. The government blamed Kurdish militants for that attack. Some Islamist and leftist groups, including the PKK, have carried out bombings in other Turkish cities as well.
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