ANKARA (Turkey) – At least twenty eight people died and 61 other were injured in a large explosion in the Turkish capital on Wednesday, an explosion hit military vehicles.
The explosion hit three military vehicles and a private vehicle in central Ankara, near Turkish parliament buildings, the vehicles were stopped for a traffic light at the time, the military said. Medical officials have reported 20 ambulances were scrambled to the scene.
The attack happened at a time when a high-level security meeting was being held at the Presidential Palace under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan has canceled his meeting to Azerbaijan scheduled for Feb. 18, while Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was scheduled to leave for Brussels later on Feb. 17, also canceled his visit.
There were conflicting reports about who is responsible, some blaming Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants and others attributing the bombing to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
“We are facing simultaneous terror attacks, as if they were controlled by the same people, trying to intimidate Turkey,” Deputy Prime Minister Kurtulmuş told reporters.
Ömer Çelik, a spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said that the explosion was an “act of terrorism.”
Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara, offered his condolences via. ‘Firstly, may all those brothers and sisters martyred rest in peace. We wish for patience for the families and offer our condolences.’
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass said in a tweet, ‘Deeply saddened and shocked by terror attack in Ankara. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who are affected.”
Wednesday’s attack comes at a tense time when the Turkish government is facing an array of challenges. A fragile peace process with the Kurdish rebels collapsed in the summer. The Turkish security forces have been engaged in large-scale operations against Kurdish militants in the southeast since December, imposing controversial curfews in flashpoint areas, and the fighting has displaced tens of thousands of civilians.
The capital was already on alert after two suicide bombers killed 101 people on Oct. 10, 2015 during a demonstration of peace activists near Ankara’s main train station, the bloodiest terror attack in the country’s modern history.