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Death Toll of Ankara Bomb Attack Rises to 37: Health Minister
   2016-03-14 17:01:55    Xinhua      Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

Security workers clean the explosion site in downtown Ankara, Turkey, March 14, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya]

The death toll of the bomb attack in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Sunday has increased to 37, said Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu on Monday.

At least one of the dead was a terrorist, Muezzinoglu said, adding that there could be a second terrorist among killed.

Nineteen out of the 71 wounded remained in critical condition, he said.

The blast took place in Kizilay district in the heart of Ankara at 18:35 local time (GMT 1635), according to a statement released on Sunday.

Private news broadcaster NTV said Sunday that a bomb-loaded car exploded near a bus stop where many people were waiting. A number of vehicles, including a bus carrying passengers, were set on fire near Guven Park, a major transportation hub. The wounded were rushed to 10 different hospitals for treatment.

"Turkey has become a target of terror attacks due to the instabilities in the region," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in late Sunday.

Turkey will continue its determined fight against terrorism, he said.

The attack came two days after the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a warning of a "potential terrorist plot" to attack Turkish government buildings and housing located in the Bahcelievler area of Ankara.

This was the third major blast to hit the Turkish capital since last October.

On Oct. 10, 2015, suspected Islamic State (IS) militants bombed a peace rally near Ankara Railway Station near a major city thoroughfare, killing 103 people.

On Feb. 17, a suicide car bomb targeted military shuttles in the capital city, killing 29 and injuring 81 others. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, a Kurdish militant group linked to the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), claimed responsibility.

Since a cease-fire between the government and the PKK collapsed last July, Turkish security forces have been conducting a major campaign against the group in the southeast of the country.

More than 260 members of Turkish security forces and thousands of PKK members have been killed since then in confrontations inside Turkey and in northern Iraq.

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