POPE FRANCIS has expressed his “deep sadness” for the victims of the twin bomb blasts in the capital of Turkey, Ankara, on Saturday.
At least 97 were killed, and many were injured in explosions outside the central railway station, during a peace march calling for an end to violence between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatists.
In a telegram signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope condemned the “barbaric act”, and asked Christians to show a “spiritual closeness” to the families affected. The Pope made the appeal after the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, asking God to welcome the souls of the dead and comfort the suffering.
The Turkish government believes that two male suicide-bombers caused the explosions, although no group has claimed responsibility. The Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, said on Monday that Islamic State was the prime suspect. The authorities were close to identifying one of the bombers, he said.
On Sunday, thousands gathered in Ankara to mourn the dead and express their anger. Reports from the BBC suggest that scuffles broke out as the grieving attempted to lay flowers on the site of the blasts. Rally organisers believe that the number of deaths is 128 — higher than the offical figure — although this is unconfirmed.
The Suffragan Bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd David Hamid, wrote in his blog on Saturday: “Turkey is to hold national elections on 1 November, and the attack seems to be aimed at sowing a sense of insecurity and fear among the population.” Bishop Hamid wrote that the locum priest of St Nicholas’s, Ankara, had said that “everyone is vigilant.”
Political campaigning before the elections, next month, is said to have been suspended owing to security concerns after the attacks.