Erdogan says Istanbul ‘attack’ blast kills six

1. Turkey
Municipal workers clean debris as Turkish policemen secure the area after a strong explosion of unknown origin shook the busy shopping street of Istiklal in Istanbul, on November 13, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

ISTANBUL, Turkey — An explosion tore through a busy Istanbul shopping street on Sunday, killing six and wounding dozens in what Turkey’s president said bore the signs of a “terror” attack.اضافة اعلان

Police cordoned off an area around Istiklal, where there were dense crowds on Sunday afternoon, and helicopters flew over the city center as sirens sounded.

“I was 50–55m away, suddenly there was the noise of an explosion. I saw three or four people on the ground,” witness Cemal Denizci, 57, told AFP.

“People were running in panic. The noise was huge. There was black smoke,” he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned what he called a “vile attack”.

“It might be wrong if we say for sure that this is terror but according to first signs ... there is a smell of terror there,” Erdogan told a press conference.

Turkey’s vice president Fuat Oktay said: “We believe that it is a terrorist act carried out by an attacker, whom we consider to be a woman, exploding the bomb”.

Area targeted previously

Authorities offered few details and nobody immediately claimed responsibility, but Turkish cities in the past have been struck by Islamist extremists and other groups.

Istiklal Avenue had been hit in the past during a campaign of attacks in 2015–2016 that targeted Istanbul and other cities including the capital Ankara.

Those bombings were mostly blamed on Daesh and outlawed Kurdish militants, and killed nearly 500 peop,le and injured more than 2,000.

Sunday’s explosion occurred shortly after 4pm (1300 GMT) in the famous shopping street, which is popular with locals and tourists.

According to images posted on social media at the time of the explosion, it was followed by flames and immediately triggered panic, with people running in all directions.

A large black crater was also visible in those images, as well as several bodies lying on the ground nearby.

According to an AFP correspondent on the scene, police established a large security cordon to prevent access to the damaged area for fear of a second explosion.

Istiklal, in the historic district of Beyoglu, is one of the most famous arteries of Istanbul, entirely pedestrianized for 1.4km.

Criss-crossed by an old tramway, lined with shops and restaurants, it is used by large crowds during the weekend.

In the neighboring district of Galata, many stores closed early while some passers-by, who came running from the site of the explosion, had tears in their eyes.

A massive deployment of security forces barred all entrances, while a heavy deployment of rescue workers and police were visible.

A reaction came quickly from Greece, which “unequivocally” condemned the blast and expressed condolences to the government and people of Turkey.

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