UPDATE: Turkish bombing leaves more than 90 dead

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UPDATE:  ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Developments relating to Saturday’s deadly bombings targeting a peace rally in the Turkish capital of Ankara. All times local.

15:40 p.m.

A prominent Syrian rebel group says that it stands with the Turkish government and people against the “terrorism” that has claimed the lives of many civilians.

Jaysh al-Islam, or the Army of Islam, says in a statement Sunday “criminals hands” are messing with Turkey to sway its government from its “honorable and supporting” positions regarding the Syrian people and others seeking freedoms.

The group, which has a strong base near Damascus and is known for having strong ties to the Turkish government, says it is expressing its “complete solidarity with the Turkish government and is sending condolences to the families of the victims.”

It says the Syrian people “will never forget the generous positions of the Turkish government and people” for taking refugees and the “repressed.”

Turkey is mourning the death of 95 people killed in twin blasts in Ankara Saturday.


15:15 p.m.

Thousands of mourners have gathered outside a place of worship for Turkey’s Alevi religious community for a funeral service for one o the victims of the twin blasts that killed 95 in the Turkish capital Ankara.

The crowd on Sunday raised their fists in the air and held a minute of silence in remembrance of 25-year-old Korkmaz Tedik who died Saturday.

The names of other victims identified by the authorities were read out one by one.

The crowd also shouted slogans denouncing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government, whom they accuse of failing to take precautions to prevent the attack.


14:20 p.m.

The co-chairman of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party is blaming the government for the deadly blasts in the Turkish capital Ankara, accusing it of failing to prevent the attack.

Selahattin Demirtas told a group of mourners on Sunday: “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.”

Scuffles broke out earlier as police used tear gas to prevent Demirtas and other mourners from laying carnations at the site of two suspected suicide bombings that killed 95.

A group of about 70 mourners were eventually allowed to enter the cordoned off area outside the main train station.


13:40 p.m.

Pope Francis has led followers in silent prayer for the victims of what he described as the “terrible slaughter” in the Turkish capital.

The pope paused for 30 seconds of silent prayer for “that dear country” during his traditional Angelus blessing Sunday. He told followers gathered in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican that news of the Ankara bomb attacks brought “pain for the numerous dead, pain for the wounded and pain because the attackers hit helpless people who were demonstrating for peace.”

The twin explosions Saturday ripped through a crowd of activists rallying for increased democracy and an end to violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces, killing 95.


13:10 p.m.

Turkey’s government says it has appointed two chief civil inspectors and two chief police inspectors to investigate the blasts in the Turkish capital which killed 95 people.

A statement from the government’s crisis coordination center also said Sunday that 160 people hurt in Saturday’s blasts were still hospitalized, with 65 in serious condition.

The statement said a total of 508 people sought medical treatment following the explosions _Turkey’s deadliest attack in years.

The two explosions occurred seconds apart outside Ankara’s main train station as hundreds of activists gathered for rally to call for increased democracy and an end to the renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces.


12:40 p.m.

A Turkish news agency reports that police have detained 14 suspected members of the Islamic State group in the central Turkish city of Konya.

The Dogan news agency says the group, which included a woman, was taken away Sunday following simultaneous raids to homes.

It was not clear if the detentions were related to the twin blasts in the capital Ankara on Saturday which killed 95 people and injured hundreds of others.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were “strong signs” that the attacks were suicide bombings. He suggested the Islamic State group or Kurdish rebels could be responsible.


12:15 p.m.

Scuffles have broken out in the Turkish capital as police used tear gas to prevent pro-Kurdish politicians and other mourners from laying carnations at the site of two suspected suicide bombings that killed 95 people and wounded hundreds in Turkey’s deadliest attack in years.

Police held back the mourners, including the pro-Kurdish party’s co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, insisting that investigators were still working at the site.

A group of about 70 mourners were eventually allowed to enter the cordoned off area outside the capital’s main train station Sunday to briefly pay their respect for the victims.

The group of mourners then began to march toward a central square in Ankara, chanting slogans against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom many hold responsible for the spiraling violence that has plagued Turkey since the summer.

(CNN) – Two powerful bombs exploded near the main train station in Ankara on Saturday morning, causing carnarge, killing at least 86 people and injuring 186 others, in the deadliest attack in the Turkish capital in recent memory.

The explosion, which caused chaos and bloodshed, took place during a peace march involving, among others, the pro-Kurdish HDP, or People’s Democratic Party.

The attack also came before national elections scheduled for November 1.

Video showed bodies strewn on sidewalks, with injured people lying on the ground with bystanders trying desperately to help them.

The blasts were so powerful they shook high-rise office buildings at some distance. The death toll is expected to climb.

A newly aggressive stance toward ISIS

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, though suspicion immediately fell on the ISIS terrorist group, or on Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

Turkey has avoided conflict with ISIS, perhaps in exchange for the release earlier this year of dozens of Turkish hostages seized in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The quid pro quo of that deal has never been announced.

However, Turkey recently changed its stance and allowed the U.S. to launch strikes on ISIS from the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.

But there was no initial word on who might have been responsible. CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen said there was nothing about the attack that would point to one group over another.

“I think that from what we know, it appears to have been a suicide bomber,” Bergen said. “Both groups have deployed these in the past.

“I will say that when we’ve seen ISIS attacks, they have tended to be in the border region along the Turkish/Syrian border. This is of course in the capital, Ankara, in the middle of the country, so that’s something to think about. And again, go back to the context of this rally. It was at a rally to protest the war by the Turkish state and Kurdish separatists.”

Is Turkey hurting ISIS?

But some observers had predicted that Turkey might be subject to terrorist attacks because of its newly aggressive stance toward ISIS.

In an interview with CNN in July, Esra Ozyurek, chair of Contemporary Turkish Studies at the London School of Economics, said that attacks in Turkey, or the absence of them, would indicate whether ISIS was being hurt by the strikes based out of Turkey.

“If Turkey’s really hurting ISIS, then there will be attacks,” Ozyurek said.

Many Turks have joined ISIS’ ranks, with a large number being recruited in Ankara, according to reports. Turks may make up a third of ISIS, according to reports.

But, on the Kurdish front, a peace process last year appeared close to reaching an agreement.

However, when the party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to win many votes in Kurdish areas of the country in June, he appeared to abandon the reconciliation process.

In return, hostilities between Kurds and the Turkish government, which have killed tens of thousands of people since 1984, have been renewed.

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