Prime minister says authorities close to identifying one of suicide attackers who killed at least 128 at peace rally
Turkey is focusing on Islamic State in its investigation into a twin bombing that killed at least 128 people in Ankara, and are close to identifying one of the bombers, the prime minister has said.
Speaking on the Turkish broadcaster NTV, Ahmet Davutoglu said the attack was an attempt to influence the outcome of the country’s general election, due to take place on 1 November, and that necessary steps would be taken if security failures were found to have contributed to the bombing.
“It was definitely a suicide bombing,” he said. “DNA tests are being conducted. It was determined how the suicide bombers got there. We’re close to a name, which points to one group.”
At least 128 people were killed and more than 200 wounded on Saturday when two explosions hit a peace rally organised by several leftist groups, including labour unions and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party, to call for an end to the escalating violence between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK).
The attack is the deadliest in the country’s recent history and was labelled a terrorist act by the government, which declared three days of national mourning.
No one has claimed responsibility but the attack bears similarities to a suicide bombing the government blamed on Isis, that killed 33 Turkish and Kurdish peace activists near the town of Suruç, bordering Syria, in July. The Hurriyet newspaper said the type of device and explosives used in Ankara were the same as those used in the Suruç attack.
On Sunday, police detained four more suspected Isis militants in a raid in the southern city of Adana. The detentions raised the number of suspected Isis militants taken into custody, in sweeps of four cities, to around 40. It was not clear, however, if any of the arrests were linked to the peace rally bombings.
Hours after the attack, Kurdish rebels battling Turkish security forces followed through with plans to declare a unilateral ceasefire in an attempt to reduce tensions before the election. Two Turkish soldiers were killed in a clash with PKK fighters in eastern Turkey at the weekend, the military said, despite the ceasefire call.
The Turkish interior minister, Selami Altinok, said Ankara was taking extra security precautions after Saturday’s bombing.
The attacks brought to the fore divisions between supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development party, and supporters of the opposition movements that have gained significant ground in recent elections.
On Sunday, demonstrators and mourners in Ankara directly blamed the government for failing to protect the rally, accusing it of instigating chaos to secure a majority in the election.