Turkey bombs Kurdish rebels as nation continues to mourn

Air strikes launched after deadly suicide bombings at a peace rally in Ankara that left 97 people dead

Turkey bombing
(Image credit: Gokhan Tan/Getty Images)

Turkish warplanes have struck Kurdish rebel targets in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq as the country mourns the deadliest terrorist attack in its history.

At least 97 people died and hundreds more were injured when two explosions went off in the middle of crowds outside Ankara's central train station on Saturday.

Thousands had gathered to call for an end to the escalating violence between the government and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants.

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"The first explosion came. Within seconds, the other one," one man told the BBC. "I realised there were body parts lying in front of us. We were in shock. This was the worst scene I've ever seen."

Senior security officials say that the bombing bears the hallmarks of an Islamic State attack and is similar to the suicide bombing in the border town of Suruc which killed 33 people in July.

"All signs indicate that the attack may have been carried out by Islamic State," a government source told Reuters. "We are completely focused on IS."

Despite this, Turkish air strikes targeted PKK bases after the government rejected a new ceasefire announced by the militant group in the wake of the suicide bombings.

As flags fly at half mast and the country observes three days of national mourning, anger is growing towards the Turkish government.

Many blame the authorities for failing to prevent the attacks. Thousands gathered in Ankara on Sunday chanting: "murderer Erdogan" and "murderer police."

Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) said that Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government had blood on its hands and that the true death toll was at least 128.

"The state which gets information about the bird that flies, and every flap of its wing, was not able to prevent a massacre in the heart of Ankara," he said.

Fresh clashes erupted on Sunday as mourners gathered in the capital. Police used batons, tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters and those attempting to lay flowers at the scene.

Despite rising tensions, the government has vowed to move forward with elections due to be held next month, promising that security at election rallies will be stepped up.

"Postponing the elections as a result of the attack is not on the table at all, even as an option," said a government source. "The elections will be held on November 1 as planned."

Demirtas urged Turkey to respond to the violence at the ballot box, Bloomberg reports. "We shall not act out of revenge or hatred; we say violence should not beget more violence," he said at a memorial event. "But we will seek to hold people accountable. November 1 is the first step in that."

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