At least six dead and dozens injured in the “attack” in Istanbul

An explosion ripped through a busy shopping street in Istanbul on Sunday, killing six and injuring dozens in what Turkey’s president said showed signs of a terrorist attack.

Explosion in Istanbul

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

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

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

Watch: Explosion ravages central Istanbul


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned what he called a “vile attack” that killed six people and injured more than 50.

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

Area addressed previously

Authorities offered few details and no group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but Turkish cities have been attacked by Islamists and other groups in the past.

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

Those attacks were mostly attributed to the Islamic State group and outlawed Kurdish militants, and killed nearly 500 people and wounded more than 2,000.

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Sunday’s explosion occurred shortly after 4:00 p.m. on the famous Istiklal shopping street, popular with locals and tourists.

According to images published on social networks at the time of the explosion, it was accompanied by flames and immediately caused panic, with people running in all directions.

A large black crater could also be seen in those images, as well as several bodies lying on the ground nearby.

According to an AFP video journalist at the scene, police set up 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 Istanbul’s most famous thoroughfares, completely pedestrianized in 1.4 kilometers.

Crossed by an old tram, full of shops and restaurants, it is used by large crowds during the weekend.

In the neighboring neighborhood of Gálata, many shops closed early while some passers-by, who came running from the scene of the explosion, had tears in their eyes.

A massive deployment of security forces equally prevented all entries, while a heavy deployment of rescuers and police was visible.

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

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