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Ankara bombing: 37 confirmed dead after blast at busy transport hub

The attackers are said to have deliberately targeted the bus stop.

A SUICIDE CAR bomb that ripped through a busy square in central Ankara yesterday killed at least 37 people, Turkey’s health minister said this morning.

71 people are still being treated in hospital.

The explosion at 6:45pm (4.45pm Irish time) struck a bus stop near Kizilay square, a bustling commercial area and local transport hub, reducing buses to charred husks and damaging nearby shops.

Officials said the blast was caused by a vehicle packed with explosives, which the interior minister said was driven by one or two attackers who had deliberately targeted the bus stop.

The attack is the third to strike Ankara in five months, in an area close to the prime minister’s office, parliament and foreign embassies, as Turkey grapples with twin security threats from the Islamic State group (IS) and Kurdish rebels.

Turkey Attack The aftermath of the transport hub blast. Source: Associated Press

As recently as Friday, the US embassy issued a warning about a possible plot to attack central Ankara, advising American citizens to avoid the area.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for yesteray’s killings, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said investigators were following up on solid leads.

“We have concrete information on the terrorist group behind the attack,” he said in a statement.

We will soon have results from the inquiry, and will make them public.

Ambassador 

Canberra said Australia’s ambassador to Turkey James Larsen was in his car just 20 metres away from the bomb when it went off.

It is the second major attack in the heart of Ankara in less than a month, after 29 people were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by a dissident faction of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on 17 February.

Sunday’s blast bore many similarities with the February bombing, which the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), linked to the PKK, said was in revenge for operations by the Turkish military in the southeast of the country.

A two-year ceasefire between the government and Kurdish rebels collapsed last year and since December security forces have been waging a major campaign against the PKK.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the government would “never abandon its right to legitimate defence against the terrorist menace”.

“Turkey is fighting a determined struggle against terrorist organisations,” he said.

The attack comes at a delicate moment for Turkey, as it seeks to persuade the European Union to speed up its path to membership of the bloc in return for help with a huge migrant crisis.

French President Francois Hollande condemned the “vile attack” and said France stood alongside Turkey in the fight against terror. British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “appalled”.

The US condemned the “horrific attack”, with the White House National Security Council pledging to work with Turkey “to confront the scourge of terrorism”.

 © AFP 2016 - with reporting by Daragh Brophy. 

Read: Secular Schools Ireland to apply to run three new primary schools in Dublin

Read: At least 27 people killed by car bomb in Ankara

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