Turkey detains 2 for tweets suggesting knowledge of blasts

Posted at 11:47 AM, Oct 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-14 13:50:16-04

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish police have detained two people who sent tweets suggesting there could be a bomb in Ankara a day before twin suicide bombings killed 99 people gathering for a peace rally, officials said Wednesday.

The two suspects were detained after Twitter provided information on users of the accounts, a government official said, adding that the two have ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which is fighting Turkey's security forces.

Authorities were trying to determine whether they had prior knowledge about the attacks or links to the bombers, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without authorization.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu raised the death toll in the attacks to 99 from the previous 97, during a television interview on Wednesday.

He has said that the main focus of the investigation into the blasts is the Islamic State group. He said Wednesday that the PKK were also under suspicion.

"As the investigation deepens, and based especially on certain results we have obtained through Twitter accounts and IP addresses, we can see that both Daesh (IS) and the PKK are groups that are likely to have played an active role," Davutoglu said.

Analysts, however, expressed skepticism about claims of the PKK's involvement, given that the attack targeted Kurdish activists.

Turkish authorities on Wednesday imposed a ban on reporting on the details of the investigation.

The suicide bombings struck at the heart of the capital just weeks before Turkey holds a national election on Nov. 1, following an inconclusive election in June and after a summer of violence that has claimed hundreds of lives.

The two suspects allegedly posted tweets that said: "The bomb will explode in Ankara" and "What if (the Islamic State group) explodes (a bomb) in Ankara?"

Turkey's Interior Ministry said Ankara's police chief and two police chiefs in charge of security and intelligence in the city had been suspended, apparently pending the outcome of an investigation into possible security flaws.

On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador John Bass laid carnations at the site of the blasts and held a moment of silence in respect of the victims.