Presidents Recep Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sauli Niinisto, along with their wives, went on Wednesday to the scene where 97 people died over the weekend. Two suicide bombers attacked a peace rally led by leftist and pro-Kurdist activists in the Turkish capital, wounding more than 500 people.
The Turkish and Finnish leaders laid flowers at the site near Ankara’s railway station a day after Erdogan promised a comprehensive investigation into the admitted security lapses that led to the tragedy, though he stopped short of demanding any senior government officials to step down over the incident.
“We’re running a country and are just people. All of us can make mistakes,” German news agency DPA quoted him as saying.
The president has come under fire from critics over the bombings. Thousands of protestors who took the streets of Istanbul on Monday blamed “Thief, Murderer Erdogan” for the attack which targeted his political rivals.
Turkish media reported late on Tuesday, however, that the chief of police for Ankara province and his heads of intelligence and public security had been suspended by the country’s interior minister. The ministry said it was a necessary move in order to conduct a thorough inquiry into Saturday’s bombings.
The ministry did not, however, say whether the officials would be allowed to return to their posts after the investigation.
No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack, though the government suspects militants tied to the “Islamic State” (“IS”) terrorist group.
Saturday’s rally was intended as a call for peace between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels, who have been locked in conflict for decades. Over the summer, two years of peace talks broke down, resulting in the renewal of hostilities between the two groups.
The militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) immediately declared a “state of inactivity” following the suicide bombings, putting its almost daily attacks on Turkish forces temporarily on hold. The PKK cited the country’s elections, to be held in November despite mounting security concerns, as the reason for the ceasefire.