Ankara governor says the huge explosion is believed to have been a car bomb as witnesses shared images of the scene on social media
By Raziye Akkoc, and agencies, video by Claire Lomas. Source: APTN
At least 20 people have been killed and 61 injured after a huge explosion, believed to be a car bomb, rocked Ankara outside military barracks, the capital's governor has said.
A Turkish official told Al-Arabiya the blast on Wednesday was caused by a vehicle exploding and witnesses on social media shared images of smoke emanating near the building. Local media said the death toll had reached 18.
The blast happened close to buildings housing the prime ministry, the general chief of staff and the defence ministry.
The explosion occured at 6.30pm (4.30pm GMT) near the Turkish parliament during rush hour and Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman said the blast hit a bus carrying military personnel.
The Turkish armed forces' General Staff confirmed to Reuters that the target was a bus carrying military personnel.
The official, speaking by phone from the military's headquarters, was unable to confirm the death toll from the blast, which government officials have described as an act of terror.
Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, said authorities were looking into the blast: "We have received information and we are looking into it." Mr Davutoglu's office later said he would not go to Brussels on Wednesday night ahead of the EU summit.
A witness told Reuters they could even smell the explosion from "blocks away": "I heard a huge explosion. There was smoke and a really strong smell even though we were blocks away," the witness said.
Omer Celik, ruling Justice and Development Party spokesman, described the blast as a "terror attack".
Cowardly terror attack in Ankara. We condemn this attack.Terör Ankara'da alçakça sald?rd?. Lanetliyoruz bu sald?r?y?..— Ömer Çelik (@omerrcelik) February 17, 2016
Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara, offered his condolences via Twitter. "Firstly, may all those brothers and sisters martyred rest in peace. We wish for patience for the families and offer our condolences.
"These kinds of attacks could happen to us all. The perpetrators of this attack will get their comeuppance. Don't doubt that."
Soon after the attack, Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) announced a media coverage ban of the incident.
It was not clear who was responsible for the attack but in recent months, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have targeted tourists and peaceful protests.
In October, Turkey suffered its worst terror attack by Isil-linked suicide bombers during which 103 people were killed.
Last month a suicide bomber, linked to Isil, killed 10 tourists in the popular Sultanahmet district.
Kurdish militants and radical leftists have also attacked parts of Turkey in recent years including an attack on Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport, during which one worker was killed.
A ceasefire between the Turkish state and Kurdish guerrilla fighters, part of Kurdistan Workers' Party, collapsed last year and since July, hundreds have been killed in the conflict in the country's south-east.