Thousands of Turkish citizens, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gathered in Istanbul Saturday to mourn the lives lost in Thursday’s terror attacks on the city, which killed 30 people.
Burying their dead: Turkish victims of Thursday's terror attacks remembered.
Speaking at the funeral of two Turkish policemen killed in Thursday’s attack, Prime Minister Erdogan on Saturday briefed his people on the latest developments in the investigation into the recent attacks against British and Jewish facilities in the city, saying he was "shamed" that some of the terrorists were Turkish.
"Unfortunately, there were four terrorists among our 52 dead citizens," Erdogan said."These people who have international links have carried out these attacks. It is a shame that their representatives are among our citizens. But I believe the police force will catch them. ... Bombs will not stop us (from) living freely."
Though several groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks – including al Qaeda and the Islamic Front of Raiders of the Great Orient (IBDA-C) – officials have been unable to verify either claim. Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency and Scotland Yard are aiding Turkish authorities in their investigation of the attacks.
So far, at least 18 have been arrested in connection with the deadly bombings and the country has remained on high alert as an important Muslim holiday approaches.
In an effort to prevent further attacks, Turkish police have also taken the precautionary measure of canceling the annual Bayram Muslim holiday.
HSBC Bank building and its surrounding area is seen after an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey.
On Thursday, suicide bombers unleashed devastating attacks on the British Consulate in Istanbul, killing the United Kingdom’s top diplomat in the country, and HSBC bank’s local office. The attacks came just days after similar attacks on Jewish facilities in the city. Altogether, more than 50 people have been killed in the spree of terrorism.
Turnout small but determined
Just two days late, the people of Turkey responded to the terrorists. They gathered in cities like Izmir, Ankara and Istanbul, participating in silent protest marches organized by trade unions and non-governmental organizations with the message that they do not want Turkey to become home to the kind of terrorism that has plagued the Middle East. Nearly 3,000 gathered in an area close to the British consulate in Istanbul.
"I’ve never been to a demonstration," said one woman. "I came because I don’t want people to be murdered. All people have to reject any attempts to ruin our beautiful city and kill our people."
Organizers were disappointed by soft overall turnout to the events. In Anakara, a city with a population of over a million, only a few hundred turned out.
But those who did make a showing were vocal in their anti-terror message. Among the most popular banners was the mantra "human dignity is stronger than violence – stop war and bring peace now."
Others carried messages critical of both the United States and Israel.