At least 28 people were killed and 61 wounded by a car bomb targeting the Turkish military in the heart of the capital Ankara, the latest in a string of attacks to shake the country.
The blast struck a convoy of military vehicles, said Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, confirming the latest toll. It was unclear who had carried out the bombing.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed retaliation against the perpetrators of the attack, which came on the heels of a spate of deadly strikes in Turkey blamed on jihadists and also Kurdish rebels.
The car bomb detonated when a convoy of military buses carrying dozens of soldiers stopped at traffic lights in central Ankara, sparking panic and chaos.
“This attack has very clearly targeted our esteemed nation as a whole and was carried out in a vile, dishonourable, treacherous and insidious way,” said Kurtulmus.
Plumes of smoke could be seen from all over the city rising from the scene, close to the headquarters of the Turkish military and the parliament.
The powerful blast was heard throughout Ankara, sending alarmed residents rushing to their balconies.
“I saw a huge fireball growing,” 25-year-old witness Gurkan, who said he was standing 500 metres (yards) from the scene”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance strongly condemned the bombing. “NATO Allies stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
Ankara was already on alert after 103 people were killed on October 10 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of peace activists, the bloodiest attack in the country’s modern history.
Eleven people, all German tourists, were also killed on January 16 when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the tourist heart of Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul.