Anguish, Resilience, Bravery after the Deadliest Terror Attack in Turkey's History

Cape Times (South Africa), October 13, 2015 | Go to article overview

Anguish, Resilience, Bravery after the Deadliest Terror Attack in Turkey's History


The ambulances had taken away the last of the living casualties. The forensic experts were picking their way through the 95 bodies that lay in contorted shapes on the road and pavement.

Those who watched - the survivors of the rally, relatives of the dead, and journalists - were strangely quiet. A high-voiced woman 100m away could be heard remonstrating with a policeman. But, on my side of the police cordon, nobody spoke. Faces were sullen. People were shocked, saddened, hushed into silence by an atrocity.

Five hours before, this had been a happy place. Security cameras show young people dancing the halay in front of Ankara's central station. They were waiting to march to the city centre to call for "peace and democracy" after 11 weeks of fighting between the Kurdish militants of the PKK and Turkish security forces.

At 10.04am, the first bomb exploded. The dancers flinched, and people ran in all directions. Seconds later, a second bomb exploded, 50m from the first.

The force of the blasts was stunning. It blew bollards off the pavements, smashed the station's windows, and spattered bits of human flesh across 19 cars in the station car park. The explosives were laced with pea-sized ball bearings.

Some of these ripped through the ankle of a man standing outside the station cafeteria. A pool of blood showed how deeply he was cut. A trail of blood 50 paces long showed how far he had limped, in excruciating pain, to get help.

A waiter said he thought the man would survive, but would lose his foot. A video posted on the internet shows how dozens of people overcame their shock and rallied to the wounded.

Many doctors were on the scene as the Turkish Medical Association was one of the civil society groups that had called the demonstration. One of the organisers sat down, his megaphone between his legs, and sobbed loudly. But the doctors administered CPR to the nearly lifeless. And others carried the wounded or comforted them. …

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