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The New Arab

Turkey imposes 'temporary' media blackout following Ankara attack

At least 28 people were killed and 61 injured in the Ankara attack [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 February, 2016

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Turkish authorities imposed a 'temporary' media blackout on coverage of the deadly Ankara attack on Wednesday, while social media users reported that access to Twitter and Facebook was restricted.

Turkey has imposed a "temporary" blackout on coverage of the deadly attack on a military convoy in the capital Ankara on Wednesday.

State media watchdog the Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) announced the ban on its website a short time after the blast that killed at least 28 people and injured 61 others.

Turkish activists and social media users also reported that access to Twitter and Facebook was restricted in the hours following the attack.

Despite the restrictions however, Facebook introduced a "Safety Check" feature allowing people in Ankara to let their family and friends know that they are safe.

This is not the first time Turkish authorities impose such a ban on coverage of terror attacks.

The government rushed to impose a media blackout following a suicide bomb attack on tourists in Istanbul last month.

A similar measure was imposed last October after Ankara suffered the deadliest attack in its modern history when two suicide bombers killed 103 people who had gathered at a peace rally.

Turkey has also pursued aggressive internet censorship policies and banned Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and Twitter.

In April 2015, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were all briefly blocked after they refused to take down photos of a prosecutor who had been taken hostage by leftist militants in Istanbul and later died of his injuries.

Eight hours after the order, the websites complied and the ban was revoked.

YouTube was also banned for two months in 2014, before Turkey's highest court ruled that the ban violated laws on freedom of expression.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had several run-ins with social media sites, saying in March 2014 that Twitter would be "eradicated", should it not comply with Turkish court orders - and that such platforms would be "wiped out".

"The international community can say this, can say that," Erdogan said at a rally at the time. "I don't care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is."

Turkey has some of the highest censorship requests submitted to Twitter and requested information on 670 users in the first half of 2015, according to Twitter's transparency report.

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