Yesterday evening was the 3rd recent bombing in Ankara. A car bomb struck in Kizilay, the heart of the city. It hit public buses, vehicles, and those waiting at a bus stop. Again I heard it from my home, from my kitchen. Again I saw and smelled the smoke from my balcony. Again it was only 1 mile away.
I immediately got on Twitter and Facebook to spread the word to stay away from the area, knowing that shortly thereafter, both would be drastically slowed or blocked by Turkey. I was right, they were shut down. Shortly after the explosion, the news media was banned from showing photos of much of what was happening. Reporting continued, but with nothing new.
The media ban was too late for me. A dreadful image had already burned my eyes, the bus stop. A closer look showed the bodies. I counted at least 9. Two faces that were completely ashen grey, looking like ghosts. At least 9 people who had simply been waiting to catch a bus. This image, these bodies, I will never forget.
Two nights before I had also shared warnings from the US Embassy. An attack was suspected, but a different area was given. They they had named Guven Park, the park next to the bus stops, in another message, relevant to a protest to take place on Saturday.
A month ago, the second bombing, of the military shuttle buses, was also 1 mile from my home. Last October, the first bomb at the train station in Ankara, was only one mile from where I was at the time.
Three years ago, the U.S. bombing in Ankara was only a minute drive from me.
But these attacks are not about me. I know that. They are about Ankara and the people of Ankara are not afraid. They proceeded this morning with their daily lives. Riding buses. Walking in the rain to work, to school. Driving down Eskisehir Yolu.
I just learned that two of the deceased are students from my husband’s university.
No, it is not about me. I think of the people suffering in Syria, in Iraq, in Israel. I think of how my mother survived 3 bombs during WWII – her office, a train, and another.
This morning I read a well-written post by a British expat. He wrote:
Contrary to what many people think, Turkey is not the Middle East. Ankara is not a war zone, it is a normal modern bustling city, just like any other European capital, and Kizilay is the absolute heart, the centre. . . Ankara is my home, it has been for the last 18 months, and it will continue to be my home. You were Charlie, you were Paris. Will you be Ankara?
Ankara wants to know that you mourn for their loss. Friends and family check in with us and it is much appreciated. But Ankara needs your love as well. Please show your support.