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At Least 95 Killed In Turkey Twin Blasts At Peace Rally

A woman reacts at the site of an explosion in Ankara, Turkey, on Saturday.
Depo Photos
A woman reacts at the site of an explosion in Ankara, Turkey, on Saturday.

Updated at 6:30 p.m.

At least 95 people were killed and another 186 were injured when two bombs exploded during a peace rally in central Ankara, Turkey, the country's Interior Minister, Selami Altinok, said during a press conference on Saturday.

One video from the scene showed demonstrators dancing and chanting when a blast goes off behind them. Pictures from the aftermath show scores of bodies strewn on city streets — many of them covered with the banners used in the protest.

The BBC's Mark Lowen tells our Newscast unit:

"The target appears to have been a peace march calling for an end to the violence with the Kurdish militant group, the PKK, which resumed over two months ago. Before the last election in June, a rally by the pro-Kurdish HDP party was bombed, blamed on Turkish nationalists. It's feared there could have been a similar motivation this time, before an electoral rerun next month."

The blasts occurred three weeks ahead of Turkey's elections, reports the Associated Press:

"The explosions occurred minutes apart near Ankara's main train station as people were gathering for the rally, organized by the country's public sector workers' trade union and other civic society groups. The rally aimed to call for an end to the renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces.

"It was not clear if the attacks, which came weeks before Turkey's Nov. 1 elections, were suicide bombings."

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the explosions.

The AP adds:

"In July, a suicide bombing blamed on the Islamic State group killed 33 people in a town near Turkey's border with Syria.

"A leftist militant group has also carried out suicide bombings in Turkey."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.