Two explosions tore through a peace rally, organized ahead of snap parliamentary elections, in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Saturday morning, killing at least 86 people and wounding 186.
The bombing—the deadliest in Turkey in recent memory—targeted Kurds and leftists who had organized to protest the armed conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants. It is the third such attack since July. “This attack resembles and is a continuation of the Diyarbakir and Suruc (attacks),” Selahattin Demirtas, leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party, told the AP. “We are faced with a huge massacre.”
As the New York Times points out, Turkey is facing a real threat—in the form of the Islamic State. However, much of the recent violence in the country stems from this older conflict, which began in the ‘80s and has left nearly 40,000 dead, between the state and the militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Recently, the warring sides had reached a cease fire and seemed inclined to negotiate for peace. “We were expecting an attack in Ankara before the election, but nothing to this extent,” Sedat Kartal, an Ankara resident who ran to the scene of the attacks, told the Times. “There’s so much hate and polarization, nothing is surprising anymore.”
The Turkish president condemned the attacks on Saturday and called for unity: “The greatest and most meaningful response to this attack is the solidarity and determination we will show against it.”