Blasts In Turkey Leave Over 80 Dead At Peace Rally [Video]

Two powerful blasts at a peace rally in the Turkish capital of Ankara have killed at least 86 people and injured over 180 more, according to Turkey’s minister of health.

The attack came Saturday morning, as people gathered to protest violence between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatists. According to the BBC, the peace rally was set to start at noon local time, but two bombs went off shortly after 10 a.m. near Ankara’s central train station as people were still arriving.

TV cameras were on the scene to film the peace rally, and they caught both the blasts and the grisly aftermath, as protesters fled the explosions.

Social media posts showed grisly images of protest signs being used to cover the dead.

Immediately prior to the blasts, protesters had gathered, hand-in-hand, with cameras rolling. Instead of capturing the runup to the peace rally, one camera actually caught the first explosion as it lit off behind the row of protesters.

Content warning for footage prior to and immediately following the blasts at the peace rally.

Initial reports, including the Independent’s coverage above, put the death count at 30. Those estimates proved low, and Turkey’s health minister, via the Associated Press, later revised the total number of dead from the attack to 86, with 186 injured.

Eye witnesses claimed that the two blasts were set off by suicide bombers, and the BBC reports that Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed that there is evidence to that effect.

According to Lamzi Ozgen, head of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions that organized the rally, the bombs “exploded in very short intervals,” indicating a tight coordination in the attack.

Lamzi also condemned the suicide bombing attack on the peace rally, saying, “There was a massacre in the middle of Ankara.”

According to the Independent, the rally organized by Ozgen’s Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions was supported by both left-wing parties in Turkey and pro-Kurdish groups, and the aim was to protest increasing violence between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish government.

The BBC reports that the pro-Kurdish HDP was in attendance at the rally and later released a statement indicating that its members were the intended target of the blasts. The head of the HDP also blamed the Turkish government for the attack.

In a series of tweets following the blasts, the HPD claimed that police were attacking protesters and preventing aid units from approaching the scene.

Another HDP rally was bombed in June, according to the BBC. That attack came ahead of a the first general election in which the HDP entered the Turkish parliament. That election proved inconclusive, and a new election is slated for November 1.

Another attack in July was carried out by ISIS.

The Independent reports that the Kurdish rebel group PKK put out a call for its supporters to suspend activities and not engage in guerrilla actions following the deadly blasts in Ankara.

Although the peace rally was meant to protest fighting between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish government, the Independent reports that the head of the PKK made the call to try and prevent any actions by his group that might affect the “fair and just election” next month.

While the head of the PKK called for its fighters to stand down, the Independent reports they were ordered not to fight unless “they were directly attacked” following the blasts at the Ankara, Turkey bombing.

[Screengrab via YouTube]