Newspaper article International New York Times

Mourners in Turkey Assail the Government ; Thousands of People Take to the Streets to Condemn Ankara for Bomb Attacks

Newspaper article International New York Times

Mourners in Turkey Assail the Government ; Thousands of People Take to the Streets to Condemn Ankara for Bomb Attacks

Article excerpt

A day after the worst terrorist attack in Turkey's modern history, thousands of mourners gathered in central Ankara to lay carnations and rail against the government.

A day after the worst terrorist attack in Turkey's modern history left nearly 100 people dead, thousands of mourners gathered on Sunday in central Ankara, the Turkish capital, to lay carnations and rail against the government.

The gathering -- mostly of Kurds, who were the main victims of the two devastating explosions at a peace rally Saturday -- waved flags and vented their anger at the Turkish state, which they held responsible for the carnage.

"Murderer Erdogan!" was one chant, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Murderer police" and "murderer state" were others.

"We met today to call for peace and mourn for our friends, but we are also demanding answers," said Ekim Ertas, a Kurdish activist who attended the peace rally on Saturday and spoke of the anger that had been building over months as several Kurdish gatherings were attacked. "There have been three similar attacks against Kurds in four months, and nobody has been held to account. We demand answers. We want to know why the government keeps allowing these attacks against the Kurds to happen."

No group has claimed responsibility for the twin bombings, which officials said had most likely been carried out by suicide bombers.

The government conducted operations on Sunday against what officials said were two possible culprits: the Sunni militants of the Islamic State and the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or P.K.K.

According to accounts in the Turkish news media, the government detained several people it suspected of being members of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in the central Anatolian city of Konya and the coastal city of Antalya.

It was not clear if the arrests were related to Saturday's attack.

According to a statement published online, the Turkish military also carried out bombing raids in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq against the P.K.K., a militant group that was at war with Turkey for nearly three decades but had, until recently, been in peace talks with the government.

The P.K.K. had announced, in the hours after the attacks in Ankara on Saturday, a unilateral cease-fire in which it pledged to halt offensive attacks in advance of parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 1. That the Turkish state kept up its campaign suggested that the cease-fire was unlikely to lead to lasting calm.

The official toll in the bombings on Saturday stood at 95 dead, but Kurdish officials said it was higher. Speaking on top of a bus at the rally in Ankara on Sunday, Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the Kurdish-dominated Peoples' Democratic Party, said that 128 people had been killed. Mr. Demirtas had accused the government on Saturday of being behind the attack, and on Sunday, he vowed not to seek revenge but to win at the polls. …

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