Massive Explosion Rocks Istanbul; Several Dead, Scores Injured

Sunday, November 13, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

ISTANBUL (Worthy News) – At least six people have been killed, and 81 people were injured in a bomb attack, “an act of terrorism” that rocked the heart of Istanbul, ’s largest city, the president and authorities said Sunday.

The blast at the famous pedestrian İstiklal Avenue occurred at around 16.20 local time, added Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya on the social media platform Twitter.

Video footage showed the moment the explosion sent debris into the air and left several people lying on the ground while others stumbled away

Soon after, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called it a “treacherous attack,” adding: “Those responsible will be punished.”

Speaking shortly before departing for Tuesday’s G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, Erdoğan said investigations were continuing, but initial reports suggested an act of terrorism. “The first information provided to us by the [Istanbul] governor suggests this was an act of terrorism,” he stressed.

Turkey has been on high alert for terrorist attacks by Islamic or Kurdish militants. It is also a NATO military alliance member and has offered to help end the war in Ukraine.

Vice-president, Fuat Oktay, said a female attacker had detonated a bomb on the busy shopping street. “Whoever is behind these events, they will be found, even if they go to the other end of the world,” he added.

LEAVING BEFORE BLAST

State-run Anadolu quoted Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag as saying a woman had sat on a bench for more than 40 minutes before leaving minutes before the blast.

The minister suggested the bomb was timed to explode or was detonated from afar. The situation of the alleged attacks wasn’t immediately apparent.

There was no claim of responsibility late Sunday.

The Istanbul mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), visited İstiklal Avenue after the explosion, which occurred less than 200 meters (218 yards) from the CHP’s Istanbul headquarters.

“I received information from our fire brigade teams on İstiklal street. They continue their investigations in the area in coordination with the police,” he said in a statement on the Twitter social media platform.

“Our healthcare workers are also working hard. I wish God’s mercy once again to those who lost their lives, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” the mayor tweeted.

The attack shocked residents in the area. Hayat, who was in an internet café on Istiklal Street when the blast occurred, said there was turmoil following the explosion. “I saw people running around, and wounded people were passing by the internet café towards the hospital,” she said. “It was a frenzy.”

SEEING BLACK SMOKE

Another eyewitness, Cemal Denizci, was about 50m (54 yards) from where the blast took place when it happened. “There was black smoke. The noise was so strong, almost deafening,” he added.

Eyup, 20, said “there is fear” among residents of Istanbul following the attack, adding that more people may choose to stay away from crowded areas like Taksim.

Authorities also said a government ministry worker and his daughter were among the dead.

This wasn’t an isolated incident in the area, as Turkey has been hit by a series of deadly bombings between 2015 and 2017 linked to the Islamic State and outlawed Kurdish groups.

Istiklal street – which is usually packed with shoppers – was previously targeted by a suicide bomber in March 2016, killing five people and injuring 36

Turkish police later said the bomber behind the 2016 blast had links to Islamic State. In January of that year, a suicide bomber in Istanbul’s busy Sultanahmet district killed 13.

In June 2016, attackers armed with automatic weapons and explosives belts also attacked the entrance of Istanbul’s Atatürk airport, killing 45 people other than the attackers and injuring more than 230.

TWIN BOMBINGS

Later, twin bombings outside an Istanbul soccer stadium in December 2016 killed 38 people and wounded 155.

The attack was claimed by an offshoot of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.

After the latest blast on Sunday, several countries expressed their support for Turkey. The United States said it stood “shoulder-to-shoulder” with its NATO military alliance ally in “countering terrorism.”

The president of wartorn Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote in Turkish on Twitter: “The pain of the friendly Turkish people is our pain.” French President Emmanuel Macron reflected on those words by tweeting: “We share your pain… We are with you in the fight against terrorism.”

Also on Twitter, the EU’s European Council President Charles Michel sent condolences to victims after the “horrific news.” Countries including Pakistan, Italy, and Greece also expressed their solidarity following Turkey’s deadliest attack in years.

A helicopter flew above the scene, and several ambulances were parked in nearby Taksim Square. The Turkish Red Crescent said blood was transferred to nearby hospitals.

Amid the chaos, survivors tried to calm down loved ones. “When I heard the explosion, I was petrified; people froze, looking at each other. Then people started running away. What else can you do,” recalled Mehmet Akus, 45, a restaurant worker on Istiklal. “My relatives called me; they know I work on Istiklal. I reassured them.”

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