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At Least 6 Dead in Turkey after Female Terrorist Bombing Attack – Market Subset News


A female bomber may have set off a huge explosion in a popular shopping street in Istanbul today that killed at least six people and injured more than 80 others, Turkish officials have claimed.

Shocking videos posted online showed the moment a fireball erupted on the street amid a loud blast as pedestrians turned and fled in horror.

Other harrowing clips showed bodies and an empty pushchair lying on the ground in the immediate aftermath of the explosion before the scene was cordoned off by forensic teams.

Istiklal Avenue, popular with both locals and tourists and lined with shops and restaurants, was packed with people when the blast rang out at around 4:20pm local time (1:20pm GMT).

Four people died at the scene, with another two succumbing to their injuries in hospital, and it is feared casualty numbers will increase overnight.

Turkish justice minister Bekir Bozdag told pro-government broadcaster A Haber that investigators were looking into a woman who sat on a bench by the scene of the blast for about 40 minutes. The explosion took place just minutes after she left, suggesting the attack may not have been authored by a suicide bomber.

Bozdag said: ‘A woman had been sitting on one of the benches for more than 40 minutes and then she got up. ‘One or two minutes later, an explosion occurred.

‘There are two possibilities,’ he said. ‘There’s either a mechanism and it explodes, or someone remotely explodes (it). All data on this woman are currently under scrutiny,’ he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who left the country earlier today for the upcoming G20 summit, said the explosion had the ‘smell’ of a terror attack.

He did not specify who may have been behind the explosion but stated a woman was thought to have been involved. In a televised statement he said: ‘Our nation should be sure that the perpetrators of the incident on Istiklal Street will be punished as they deserve.

‘It would be wrong to say this is undoubtedly a terrorist attack but the initial developments and initial intelligence from my governor is that it smells like terrorism… Efforts to take over Turkey and the Turkish nation through terrorism will not reach its goal.’

Vice President Fuat Oktay meanwhile visited the scene alongside interior minster Suleyman Soylu, also declaring the blast appeared to have been authored by a female bomber.

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.’

No one has yet claimed responsibility, though Istanbul and other Turkish cities have been targeted in the past by Kurdish separatists, Islamist militants and other groups.

Social media users said shops were shuttered and the avenue closed down as forensic teams and emergency services moved in to examine the scene. But by evening, the avenue was buzzing with tourists and onlookers and some shops stayed open in a show of defiance.

‘We are not afraid, we heard the explosion but we are open as long as the police don’t come and ask us to close,’ said Mustafa Guler, manager of the Keyif Nevizade restaurant in the neighbourhood.

‘When I heard the explosion, I was petrified, people froze, looking at each other. Then people started running away. What else can you do,’ said Mehmet Akus, 45, a restaurant worker on Istiklal.

‘My relatives called me, they know I work on Istiklal. I reassured them,’ he told Reuters.

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

Vice President Oktay said: ‘We are evaluating it as an act of terror’.

If confirmed, it would be the first major bomb blast in Istanbul in several years.

Twin bombings outside an Istanbul soccer stadium in December 2016 killed 38 people and wounded 155 in an attack claimed by an offshoot of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

Condemnations of the attack and condolences for the victims rolled in from several countries.

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

The United States also denounced it, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying: ‘We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO Ally Turkey in countering terrorism.’

EU Commission President Charles Michel also offered condolences to Turkey, tweeting: ‘My thoughts are with the victims & their families.’

Speaking in the aftermath of the attack, Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya said: ‘According to initial reports, 4 people lost their lives and 38 were injured in the explosion that took place on Istiklal Street. Our wounded are being treated.

‘We wish God’s mercy on those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to the injured. Developments will be shared with the public.’

Eyewitness Cemal Denizci was on the street when he heard the explosion. ‘I saw three or four people on the ground,’ he told AFP.

‘People were running in panic… There was black smoke. The noise was so strong, almost deafening,’ he said.

Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said on Twitter: ‘My condolences to those who lost their lives in the explosion on Istiklal Avenue.’

Turkey was hit by a string of deadly bombings between 2015 and 2017 by the so-called Islamic State group and outlawed Kurdish groups.

The very same street that suffered today’s attack was previously targeted by a suicide bomber in 2016. Five people, including the bomber, died in that incident.

Footage sent to Middle East Eye from the scene reportedly showed the bodies of one child and one man mortally wounded.

‘There are strong suspicions that this was a suicide bomb, but we don’t have any official statement yet,’ Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu said from Istanbul.

Bellingcat, the fact-checking and open-source intelligence agency, has shared CCTV footage from today which shows a bag left on a bench that could have been the source of the explosion.

Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office banned sharing footage of the blast. A statement issued by the office read: ‘Due to the explosion in Istiklal Street today, an investigation has been started by our Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and five public prosecutors have been appointed for that purpose.

‘In addition, a broadcast ban was issued by the Istanbul Criminal Court of Peace for all visual and audio news and social networking sites related to the explosion.’

Some Turkish users said they were unable to access Twitter without a VPN.

Meanwhile the Turkish Football Federation announced that a match scheduled on Sunday evening between Beşiktaş and Fraport TAV Antalyaspor has been postponed following the explosion.



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