Istanbul blast: Suspect arrested in Istiklal street blast that killed 6 and injured 81


Istanbul
CNN

A suspect is in custody in connection with an explosion that killed at least six people and injured at least 81 others in Istanbul on Sunday, Turkey’s Interior Ministry said Monday.

The incident was deemed a terrorist attack, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sunday, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We consider this to be a terrorist act as a result of the detonation of the bomb by an attacker, whom we believe to be a woman,” Oktay told reporters on Sunday.

Turkish officials believe Kurdish separatists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) were likely behind the deadly bombing, the country’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday.

“It is a PKK/PYD terrorist organization according to our preliminary findings,” Soylu told a news conference at the site of Sunday’s attack on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue.

Soylu did not elaborate or provide details of how the researchers reached this conclusion.

“Recently, the person who left the bomb was arrested by the teams of the Istanbul Police Department. Before his arrest, 21 other people were also arrested,” the minister said. “The face of terrorism is bitter, but we will continue this fight to the end, whatever the cost.”

CCTV footage shows a woman sitting on a bench for more than 40 minutes and then getting up a minute or two before the explosion, leaving behind a bag or plastic bag, according to Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag.

Bozdag, who made the comments in an interview with the privately owned A Haber news channel, said Turkish security forces believe the woman is the suspect and authorities are investigating her.

“There are two possibilities. Either that bag or plastic bag has a mechanism in it, explodes on its own, or someone detonates it from afar. All of those are currently under investigation.” he added

“The woman’s name is unknown,” he said. “All recordings and data on the woman are being analysed.”

Ambulances and police rushed to the scene in a troubled neighborhood of Istanbul.

The explosion occurred on Istiklal Street in Beyoglu Square in the heart of Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said.

“We wish God’s mercy for those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery for the injured,” Yerlikaya wrote on Twitter.

People hug each other at the site of the explosion.

The six people killed include Yusuf Meydan, a member of Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Services, and his daughter Ecrin, according to Derya Yanık, the agency’s minister.

Soylu, the Minister of the Interior, said on Monday that 50 of the 81 injured people have been discharged from the hospital and 31 people are still being treated.

Turkey’s conflict with Kurdish separatist groups has lasted four decades and claimed tens of thousands of lives. The PKK has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

“In particular, the insincerity of our so-called friendly allies, who either hide terrorists in their own country, or feed terrorists in the areas they occupy and send them money from their own senates, is obvious,” Soylu said. .

“We will give an answer in the near future, to those who caused us this pain in Beyoglu Istiklal Street so that they experience more and more pain,” Soylu said.

Witness Tariq Keblaoui said he was shopping on Istiklal Street when the explosion occurred about 10 meters (32.8 feet) in front of him.

“People dispersed immediately,” said Keblaoui, a Lebanese journalist who was on his last day of vacation in the city.

Turkish police and explosives experts work at the site of the explosion on Sunday.

“Very soon after, I could see how many injured people were on the ground,” Keblaoui told CNN. He says he saw dead bodies and seriously injured victims.

“There was a man in the store bleeding from his ears and from his legs, and his friends were crying near him,” Keblaoui said.

Police officers secured the area after the blast.

Istiklal Street was full of visitors when the explosion occurred on Sunday afternoon, he said.

“It went very quickly from a very quiet Sunday with a street very full of tourists to what looked like the aftermath of a war zone,” Keblaoui said.

News of the explosion led to an outpouring of condolences from around the world.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose own country suffered a deadly terrorist attack exactly seven years earlier, shared his sympathies for the Turkish people.

“On this very symbolic day for our Nation, as we think of the victims who fell on November 13, 2015, the Turkish people are struck by an attack in their heart, Istanbul,” he said. Macron tweeted sunday “To the Turks: We share your pain. We stand with you in the fight against terrorism.”

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, expressed his condolences after the deadly explosion on Sunday.

Members of a forensic team are working at the scene.

“Horrible news from Istanbul tonight,” he said. “All our thoughts are with the current responders and the people of Turkey at this very distressing time.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg he tweeted his “deepest condolences” to the Turkish people, adding that NATO “stands in solidarity with our ally” Turkey.

Police and emergency responders are gathering at the scene.

The United States “strongly condemns the act of violence that took place today in Istanbul,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this Sunday. “Our thoughts are with those who were injured and our deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky he tweeted of his “deep sadness” at the news of the explosion. “I offer my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” Zelensky said. “The pain of the friendly Turkish people is our pain.”

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