Turkey's Capital Suffers A Second Deadly Explosion In 2 Months
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And let's go now to Turkey where the president is vowing to, quote, "bring terrorism to its knees" after the latest attack in the capital Ankara. A car bomb yesterday near a public bus killed at least 37 people and wounded over a hundred more. So far, no one has claimed responsibility, but the Turkish military says it has launched strikes against Kurdish rebel camps in northern Iraq. NPR's Peter Kenyon has more.
PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Sunday evening in Ankara's central Kizilay Square is a busy time with residents returning from weekend trips, climbing off buses and heading for home. A number of government buildings are close by. So those who heard the large explosion as a passenger bus pulled to a stop feared the worst - that Turkey, neighbor to states convulsed in conflict and fighting a battle of its own against Kurdish militants, was once again the target of terrorism.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).
KENYON: Rescue crews sorted through the charred vehicles looking for survivors. Turkey's health minister said nearly 20 of the wounded were in critical condition. The interior minister told reporters that an investigation is underway and promised to bring those responsible to justice.
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TURKEY EFKAN ALA: (Through interpreter) We are condemning this attack, and let me repeat, this kind of violence will never overcome the determination of this nation that has overcome so many problems in the past. This determination proves that the attackers will never achieve their goals.
KENYON: Pro-government media quickly pointed to supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, even though past PKK attacks have largely focused on military or police targets. An explosion last month went off near a military base in the capital killing 29. Just two days before this blast, the U.S. embassy in Ankara warned Americans about a possible terrorist threat targeting government buildings. The Obama administration condemned the attack as did NATO. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there was no justification for such heinous acts of violence. Besides Kurdish militants, supporters of the Islamic State and extreme left-wing groups have also carried out violent attacks in Turkey in recent months.
In a statement, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attacks against civilians are a sign that Turkey's security forces are winning the war against terrorism, adding that he was certain of success. Just a few years ago, Turkey was stable and prospering, the envy of much of Europe. Now it's embroiled in a tense dispute with Russia that has sapped its economy, it's been swamped with migrants from Syria and is battling Kurdish militants in the South East leaving some Turks to wonder if they can avoid being sucked into the chaos destabilizing the region. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul.
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