Update: Death Toll Rose to 34 after initial publishing of article.
A huge explosion has rocked Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and resulted in the death of 27 persons while also wounding at least 75 other people on Sunday. Senior security officials and local media are also reporting that immediately following the blast, the sound of gunshots could also be heard.
The explosion has been attributed by local officials to have been caused by a car bomb and occurred on the main boulevard of the city of Ankara called Ataturk Bulvari, which is also close to Ankara's main square, Kizilay. The location where the bomb was detonated was also close to a bus park. The area is also said to be close to several government offices, embassies, and parliamentary buildings.NBC News coverage of the explosion revealed that local private NTV news channel reported that a car, which is believed to have been laden with explosives, was detonated close to a bus in the park. The car bomb reportedly caused several buses in the park to catch fire and the windows of several shops along the street were completely shattered as a result of the explosion.
This deadly explosion is actually the third such attack within the city in a five-month span, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called for an emergency security meeting immediately after news of the bombing had spread. This attack is also coming just three weeks after a suicide car bomber targeted buses in the capital that had been carrying military personnel and caused the death of 29 people. Responsibility for the Feburary 17 attack was claimed by a Kurdish militant group, which is reportedly an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdish rebel group known as the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. However, the government has said that the attack was actually carried out by a Syrian Kurdish militia group working in tandem with the PKK, which has waged a 30-year insurgency.
Thus far, no one has claimed responsibility for this recent attack.Smoke from the explosion the car bomb wrought could be seen rising above the area from a distance of 2.5 km away. Ambulances reached the site of the bombing in haste, and medical personnel advised that the 75 persons who were reportedly injured as a result of the blast be taken to about 10 different hospitals around the city; dozens of them are in very serious condition. Twenty-three of the persons killed died on the scene, while the other four died on their way to the hospital.
The area was sealed off by the police and onlookers and journalists alike were prevented from having further access, as a warning that a second bomb may be present was issued. According to the New York Times, in keeping with protocol from previous bombings, the authorities in Turkey were quick to impose a ban on Sunday to prevent media organizations from broadcasting or publishing any graphic images of the blast and its aftermath. The explosive attack came just two days after the U.S. Embassy in Turkey issued a warning about a "potential terrorist plot" involving attacking government buildings and housing in the Bahcelievlera section of Ankara, which is approximately three miles west of the deadly explosion on Sunday. The embassy warned American citizens to stay away from the area.The Associated Press has also revealed that Turkey's pro-Kurdish party has issued a statement condemning the Ankara attack that killed at least 27 people and wounded 75 more. Since the party has often been accused of arming the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and not speaking out against the violence they wrought, the announcement holds much significance.
It has been said that Turkey was the stable corner of the Middle East and the West's crucial ally in the volatile region, but the growing number of attacks the country faces is a dangerous moment for them. The deadliest attack came last October when a peace rally outside Ankara's main train station was bombed and 102 people were killed.
[Photo Courtesy of STR/AP Images]