Turkish police foiled a bomb attack in Ankara on Tuesday, the sixth anniversary of 9/11 attacks on the United States, averting what officials said would have been a disaster for the capital.Ankara Governor Kemal Onal said police had found a vehicle packed with explosives in a multi-storey car park in a central district of the city of four million.
Shops and offices in the area were quickly evacuated.
â€œThe police efforts prevented a possible disaster… It is too early to say who was behind this but the bomb was big and I do not want to think what might have happened if it had gone off,â€ Onal told reporters.
Private broadcaster NTV said police had found about 300kg of explosives in the vehicle, a stolen minibus parked on the second floor of the car park.
The state Anatolian news agency said it took experts three hours to defuse the bomb.
Kurdish separatists, ultra-leftists and Islamists have all carried out attacks in Turkey in recent years.
Police threw a wide cordon around the car park after identifying the suspicious-looking minibus.
â€œPolice ordered us to evacuate our building. People panicked and started running,â€ said Abbas Yuksel, 38, who works for a construction company based in the area.
Onal noted that September 11 and 12 were particularly sensitive days. The world remembers on Tuesday Al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, while Turkey will mark the anniversary of its 1980 military coup on Wednesday – a possible focus for leftist groups.
CNN Turk quoted police as saying the device found resembled those used in Al Qaeda-backed suicide bomb attacks in November 2003 on two synagogues, the British consulate and the HSBC bank in Istanbul.
More than 60 people died in those attacks. But the broadcaster also said investigators were focusing on the possibility that Kurdish separatist guerrillas may have been behind Tuesdayâ€™s thwarted attack.
Turkish authorities have blamed the guerrillas for a suicide bombing at a central Ankara shopping centre in May that killed at least six people and injured dozens. Kurdish PKK rebels denied any involvement in that attack.