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Ankara bombing: Death toll in Turkish peace rally blasts could rise to 128

By Associated Press Reporters

Scuffles broke out in the Turkish capital yesterday as police prevented pro-Kurdish politicians and mourners from laying flowers at the site of two suspected suicide bombings that killed 95 people in the country's deadliest attack in years.

The pro-Kurdish HDP party, which organised Saturday's rally, said the death toll could be as high as 128 people.

Turkey declared three days of mourning following Saturday's near-simultaneous explosions in Ankara that targeted a peace rally attended by activists, labour unions and members of the pro-Kurdish party.

The party's co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, planned to hold a memorial for the victims yesterday but they were held back by police who insisted investigators were still working at the site.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Kurdish rebels and Islamic State militants were the most likely culprits.

Turkish police later detained 14 suspected members of the Islamic State group in the central city of Konya. The group, which included a woman, was held following simultaneous raids on homes.

Television footage showed a line of protesters near Ankara's train station chanting and performing a traditional dance with their hands locked, when a large explosion went off behind them.

The two explosions occurred seconds apart as hundreds of opposition supporters and Kurdish activists gathered for the peace rally. The protesters planned to call for increased democracy in Turkey and an end to the renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces.

At least 248 people were injured in the blasts, and 48 of them are said to be in a serious condition.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he had spoken to Mr Davutoglu to express his condolences.

"My thoughts are with the victims and their families," he added.

The Queen said she is "shocked and saddened" by the suspected suicide bombings.

In a letter to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Queen offered her "heartfelt sympathy" to the Turkish people following Saturday's attacks.

The Pope paused for 30 seconds of silent prayer in St Peter's Square for "that dear country" during his traditional Angelus blessing.

Belfast Telegraph


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