Car bomb attack on military in Turkish capital kills 28

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Deadly Bomb Blast Rocks Turkish Capital

ANKARA (Reuters) -- Twenty-eight people were killed and dozens wounded in Turkey's capital Ankara on Wednesday when a car laden with explosives detonated next to military buses near the armed forces' headquarters, parliament and other government buildings.

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The Turkish military condemned what it described as a terrorist attack on the buses as they waited at traffic lights in the administrative heart of the city.

Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said 28 people including soldiers and civilians had been killed and 61 wounded in the blast, which took place near a busy intersection less than 500 meters from parliament during the evening rush hour.

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Car bomb attack on military in Turkish capital kills 28
Firefighters try to extinguish flames following an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A burning vehicle seen after an explosion in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, after assailants exploded a car bomb near vehicles carrying military personnel in the Turkish capital, killing several people and injuring scores of others, officials said. The explosion occurred during evening rush hour in the heart of city, in an area close to where military headquarters and the parliament are located. (AP Photo)
ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: Smoke rises from a burning bus after an explosion at Merasim street on the intersection of Inonu Boulevard and Dikmen avenue in Turkey's capital Ankara on February 17, 2016. (Photo by Murat Kaynak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Flames are seen following an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises over buildings following an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Police arrive near the site of an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
TURKEY OUT Emergency workers help an injured person on the ground near the site of an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least 18 people were killed and 45 wounded by a car bomb targeting the military in the heart of the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The bloodshed came on the heels of a string of attacks in Turkey, blamed on jihadists but also on Kurdish rebels. The bomb aimed at a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / CIHAN NEWS AGENCY / CIHAN (Photo credit should read CIHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters try to extinguish flames following an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: Smoke rises from a burning bus after military vehicles hit by Ankara blast close to government, at Merasim street on the intersection of Inonu Boulevard and Dikmen avenue in Turkey's capital Ankara on February 17, 2016. (Photo by Haluk Yavuzhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: A firefighter tries to put out a fire as Turkish army busses burn after an explosion on February 17, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey. At least five people have been killed and 10 injured in an explosion in the Turkish capital of Ankara in what appeared to have been a car bomb attack on a vehicle carrying military personnel. (Photo by Erhan Ortac/Getty Images)
An injured person receives medical treatment by rescue workers following an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: Smoke rises from the blast site as Turkish army busses burn after an explosion on February 17, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey. At least five people have been killed and 10 injured in an explosion in the Turkish capital of Ankara in what appeared to have been a car bomb attack on a vehicle carrying military personnel. (Photo by Erhan Ortac/Getty Images)
TURKEY OUT Firefighters try to extinguish flames following an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / IHLAS NEWS AGENCY / STRINGER / Turkey OUT (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured person is loaded into an ambulance car following an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: Smoke rises from the blast site as Turkish army busses burn after an explosion on February 17, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey. At least five people have been killed and 10 injured in an explosion in the Turkish capital of Ankara in what appeared to have been a car bomb attack on a vehicle carrying military personnel. (Photo by Erhan Ortac/Getty Images)
People react at the scene of an explosion in Ankara, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. A large explosion, believed to have been caused by a bomb, injured several people in the Turkish capital on Wednesday, according to media reports. (IHA via AP) TURKEY OUT
Firefighters work at a scene of fire from an explosion in Ankara, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. A large explosion, believed to have been caused by a bomb, injured several people in the Turkish capital on Wednesday, according to media reports. Private NTV said the explosion occurred during rush hour in an area close to where military headquarters are located as a bus carrying military personnel was passing by. Several cars caught fire, the report said. Ambulances were seen rushing toward the scene. The explosion caused a large fire and dark smoke could be seen billowing from a distance. (IHA via AP) TURKEY OUT
ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: Turkish army service busses burn after an explosion on February 17, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey. 21 people are believed to have been killed and at least 61 are said to be wounded according to the city's governor Mehmet Kiliclar in what appeared to have been a car bomb attack on a vehicle carrying military personnel in the Turkish capital. (Photo by Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: Turkish army service busses burn after an explosion on February 17, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey. 21 people are believed to have been killed and at least 61 are said to be wounded according to the city's governor Mehmet Kiliclar in what appeared to have been a car bomb attack on a vehicle carrying military personnel in the Turkish capital. (Photo by Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images)
TURKEY OUT Smokes rises above buildings following an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / IHLAS NEWS AGENCY / STRINGER / Turkey OUT (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A man reacts next to policemen near the site of an explosion after an attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles in Ankara on February 17, 2016. At least five people were killed and 10 people were wounded in a car bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara on February 17, the city's governor said. The attack targeted a convoy of military service vehicles, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said, quoted by the CNN-Turk and NTV channels. / AFP / EROL UCEM (Photo credit should read EROL UCEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Paramedics carry wounded people from the site of an explosion into an ambulance in Ankara, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Assailants on Wednesday exploded a car bomb near vehicles carrying military personnel in the Turkish capital, killing at least 18 people and wounding some 45 others, officials said. (Mustafa Kirazli/Cihan News Agency via AP) TURKEY OUT
Paramedics carry a wounded man from the site of an explosion into an ambulance in Ankara, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Assailants on Wednesday exploded a car bomb near vehicles carrying military personnel in the Turkish capital, killing at least 18 people and wounding some 45 others, officials said. (Mustafa Kirazli/Cihan News Agency via AP) TURKEY OUT
Smoke from a fire billow is seen following an explosion as police officers secure the area in Ankara, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. A large explosion, believed to have been caused by a bomb, injured several people in the Turkish capital on Wednesday, according to media reports. (Cihan News Agency via AP) TURKEY OUT
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Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag described the attack as an act of terrorism and told parliament, which was in session when the blast occurred, that the car had exploded on a part of the street lined on both sides by military vehicles.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who had been due to leave for meetings in Brussels later on Wednesday, canceled the trip, an official in his office said. President Tayyip Erdogan postponed a planned visit to Azerbaijan.

The attack, the latest in a series of bombings mostly blamed on Islamic State over the past year, comes as the NATO member gets dragged ever deeper into the war in neighboring Syria and tries to contain some of the fiercest violence in decades in its restive and largely Kurdish southeast.

A senior security source said initial signs indicated that Kurdish militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were responsible. Separate security sources in the southeast, however, said they believed Islamic State militants may have been behind the bombing.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

"I heard a huge explosion. There was smoke and a really strong smell even though we were blocks away," a Reuters witness said. "We could immediately hear ambulance and police car sirens rushing to the scene."

RUSH HOUR

A health ministry official said the authorities were still trying to determine the number of dead and wounded, who had been taken to several hospitals in the area.

Images on social media showed the charred wreckage of at least two buses and a car. The explosion, which came shortly after 6:30 pm (1630 GMT), sent a large plume of smoke above central Ankara.

Turkey, a NATO member, faces multiple security threats. It is part of a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq, and has been shelling Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria in recent days.

It has also been battling PKK militants in its own southeast where a 2-1/2 year ceasefire collapsed last July, plunging the region into its worst violence since the 1990s.

The PKK, which has fought a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy, has frequently attacked military targets in the past, although it has largely focused its campaign on the mainly Kurdish southeast.

Wednesday's bombing comes after an attack in Ankara in October blamed on Islamic State, when two suicide bombers struck a rally of pro-Kurdish and labor activists outside the capital's main train station, killing more than 100 people.

A suicide bombing in the historic heart of Istanbul in January, also blamed on Islamic State, killed 10 German tourists.

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