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Ankara Car Bomb Kills At Least 37 People In Turkey's Capital

13/03/2016 20:01 GMT | Updated 14/03/2016 09:59 GMT

At least 37 people have been killed and dozens more wounded after a car bomb exploded in Turkey's capital on Sunday, officials said. The explosion took place in Ankara's main boulevard, Ataturk Bulvari, close to main square, Kizilay.

It happened adjacent to bus stops near a park. Photos from the capital show several burnt out vehicles. The private NTV news channel said a car, believed to be laden with explosives, detonated close to a bus, the Associated Press reports.

The area is close to government offices, including ministries. Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said 19 of the wounded were in serious condition. He said that 30 of the fatalities died at the scene, while the other four perished at hospitals. Two of the dead were believed to be the assailants, he added.

Dogan Asik, 28, said he was on a bus when the explosion occurred. "We were thrown further back into the bus from the force of the explosion," said Asik, who sustained injuries on his face and arm.

Turkish authorities said they had evidence pointing to who was behind the attack, but said that an announcement would not be made until the investigation was complete.

Police sealed off the area and pushed onlookers and journalists back, warning there could be a second bomb. Forensic teams were examining the scene.

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Car bomb in Turkey's capital Ankara

The bombing is the third in the city in five months and comes as Turkey is faced with an array of issues, including renewed fighting with the Kurdish rebels, threats from the Islamic State group and a Syrian refugee crisis.

It occurred just three weeks after a suicide car bombing in the capital targeted buses carrying military personnel, killing 29 people. A Kurdish militant group which is an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for the attack on 17 Feb. The government, however, said that attack was carried out by a Syrian Kurdish militia group in concert with the PKK, which has waged a 30-year insurgency.

Sunday's attack also came two days after the U.S. Embassy issued a security warning about a potential plot to attack Turkish government buildings and housing in one Ankara neighborhood and asked its citizens to avoid those areas.

As with the previous bombings, Turkish authorities quickly imposed a ban Sunday preventing media organizations from broadcasting or publishing graphic images of the blast or from the scene.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Turkey in renewed fighting following the collapse of the peace process between the government and the PKK in July. Authorities on Sunday had declared curfews in two towns in the mainly Kurdish southeast region in anticipation of large-scale military operations against PKK-linked militants.

Turkey also has been struck by several bombings in the last year that were blamed on IS as the government joined efforts led by the U.S. to fight the extremist group in Syria. The deadliest came in October when a peace rally outside Ankara's main train station killed 102 people.

Senior officials told Reuters initial findings suggested the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group was responsible.

Turkey's president pledged that "terrorism will be brought to its knees" in the aftermath of the attack.

On Monday, Turkish war planes began bombarding Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq.

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