No stepping back from anti-terror fight - Turkish PM

Türkiye Materials 18 February 2016 04:11 (UTC +04:00)
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey will never take a step back from its "justified fight" against all terrorist organizations.
No stepping back from anti-terror fight - Turkish PM

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey will never take a step back from its "justified fight" against all terrorist organizations, Anadolu agency reported.

The premier was speaking after a terrorist attack hit military-owned vehicles in central Ankara on Wednesday evening, killing at least 28 people and wounding 61 more.

"Our nation which has long been the targeted by terrorism but weathered several storms by further closing ranks will overcome these hard circumstances in dignity and solidarity against these attacks," he said in a statement after attending a security summit chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Ankara's Presidential Palace.

Davutoglu noted that Turkey stands united with "all our 78 million citizens" in the face of terror and violence, allowing nobody to override Turkey's rights.

"Those who mounted and instigated the atrocious attack that targeted our country, great nation and democracy will never attain their aims," he added.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said that there is no information at present about who was responsible for Wednesday's deadly bomb attack in Ankara.

However, he vowed that the identities of those behind the attack would be revealed at the earliest.

"Unfortunately, we have lost 28 citizens in the car bomb attack, including soldiers and civilians," Kurtulmus told a news briefing.

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said three of the casualties had died in hospital. He also confirmed that 61 wounded were being treated for "slight or moderate" injuries across 14 hospitals.

He added that a second blast also took place but said this was a controlled explosion carried out on a suspect package by the security forces.

An initial report from Ankara's governor suggests three military-owned vehicles and a private vehicle were hit during the evening rush hour.

Anadolu Agency reporters at the scene say the blast occurred in Merasim Street which connects Dikmen Street to Inonu Boulevard and is close to Turkish General Staff and parliament buildings.

Ankara Governor Mehmet Kiliclar said the authorities believed a bomb-laden vehicle was the source of the blast.

The Turkish General Staff has said that a "terror attack" hit vehicles carrying its personnel at 6.31 p.m. local time [1631 GMT] while they were waiting at traffic lights on Inonu Boulevard.

"We harshly condemn this heinous and vicious attack and convey our condolences to all our heroic fellow soldiers, our citizens that lost their lives in the attack and their families as well as the grand Turkish nation and we wish a speedy recovery to the wounded," the statement added.

Several ambulances, medical and fire brigade teams, along with police, have been dispatched to the area.

Anti-terror and crime-scene investigation teams from Ankara police are examining the location.

All streets connecting to the blast area have been closed to traffic as police and army teams enforce strict security measures.

Kurtulmus has said a delegation of seven investigators, headed by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor, was working on the case.

Davutoglu has cancelled a planned visit to Brussels while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled his trip to Azerbaijan scheduled for tomorrow.

Attack condemned

Speaking during a plenary session at the Turkish parliament, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the attack had been mounted by a terrorist organization:

"Those who organized, planned the heinous attack in Ankara and instigated the ... and will never do so."

In messages posted on their Twitter accounts, the British and American ambassadors to Turkey also condemned the attack.

"Terrible news from Kizilay. Condolences to the families of those killed and speedy recovery to the injured," wrote U.K. envoy Richard Moore.

Moore said the U.K. "stands shoulder to shoulder with Turkey at this difficult time".

U.S. ambassador John Bass also wrote that he was "deeply saddened and shocked" by the terror attack in Ankara.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department strongly condemned the attack and extended its deepest condolences to the families of the deceased; the U.S. embassy in Ankara is working to determine if any American citizens "were involved", spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

"We invite the international community to stand by us in cooperation against terrorism," Turkish Deputy PM Kurtulmus also said.

However, he added: "I would like everyone to know that Turkey is not satisfied anymore just by some empty sentences of condemnation."