Nations send messages of support, condolences following blasts targeting peace protestors
UPDATES WITH CONDOLENCES FROM CHANCELLOR MERKEL, STATEMENT BY GERMAN FM STEINMEIER
The international community has condemned Saturday’s attack on a peace rally in Ankara that killed at least 86 people and injured 186.
French President Francois Hollande and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev both telephoned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to offer their condolences while Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the blasts and offered condolences to the families of the victims.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly condemned the attack in a telegram of condolences to her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu.
“If the indications of terrorism are confirmed, this is a cowardly act directed against civil rights, democracy and peace,” Merkel said.
“This attack has targeted social cohesion. It is an attempt to intimidate, an attempt to spread fear,” she added.
“I am confident that the Turkish government and the whole Turkish society will stand together and give terror the answer of unity and democracy,” the German premier said.
German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said the terror attack was aimed at undermining the democratic process in Turkey.
“The perpetrators have apparently aimed at creating a climate of fear, fueling strife and hatred. This should not happen,” Steinmeier said.
“All the forces in Turkey which advocate peaceful coexistence and reconciliation should stand together now and prevent any further escalation. I am confident that the democratic forces which are deeply rooted in Turkish society will also come through this,” he said.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was appalled by the “barbaric attacks” in a tweet. “My thoughts are with the loved ones of those killed and injured. UK stands with the Turkish people,” he added.
Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said: “I condemn the barbaric attack on peaceful demonstrators in Ankara today. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental pillar of democracy.”
The U.S. expressed “deep condolences to the Turkish people and to the families of the victims of today’s horrendous attack” in a message sent on the Ankara embassy’s official Twitter account.
In Pakistan, President Mamnoon Hussain’s office said in a statement: “We have learned with deep sadness about the bomb blasts near the train station in Ankara today. Pakistan condemns this heinous act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms.”