Six dead in Istanbul blast, Erdogan says it ‘smells like terrorism’

  • Explosion in wounds on a busy pedestrian street 81
  • Erdogan calls it a bomb, vowing that those who committed it will be punished
  • No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing
  • Turkish cities were targeted in a series of attacks in 2015-2016

ISTANBUL, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Six people were killed and 81 others injured on Sunday when an explosion ripped through a pedestrian street in central Istanbul in what Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called a bomb attack that “smells like terrorism”.

Ambulances rushed to the scene on crowded Istiklal Avenue, where police quickly surrounded it. The area, in the Beyoglu district of Turkey’s largest city, was packed as usual on the weekend with shoppers, tourists and families.

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed the moment the explosion occurred at 4.13 pm (1313 GMT), sending debris into the air and leaving many people lying on the ground, while others fled.

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Four hours after the explosion, Vice President Fuat Oktay and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu visited the site of the explosion.

Oktay said the number of injured was 81 and added that six people died in the shooting.

“We will solve this issue soon,” Oktay told reporters.

Erdogan told a news conference in Istanbul that “attempts to defeat Turkey and the Turkish people with terrorism will fail today as they did yesterday and tomorrow.”

“Our people can be sure that the perpetrators of the attack will be punished as they deserve,” he said, adding that preliminary information suggests that “a woman played a role” in it.

“It would be wrong to say that this is a terrorist attack without a doubt but the first development and the first intelligence from my governor is that it smells of terrorism,” he added.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Istanbul and other Turkish cities have been targeted in the past by Kurdish separatists, Islamist militants and other groups, including attacks in 2015 and 2016.


Reuters footage showed people dealing with victims after the explosion, and later white-clothed investigators collecting items from the scene, where pieces of a concrete planter were strewn across the road.

“When I heard the explosion, I was shocked, people were shaking, looking at each other. Then people started running. What else can you do,” said Mehmet Akus, 45, a restaurant worker in Istiklal.

“My friends called me, they know I work in Istiklal. I convinced them,” he told Reuters.

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

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Vice President Oktay said, “We are evaluating it as an act of terror”.

If confirmed, it would be the first major bombing in Istanbul in many years.

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

Condemnations of the attack and sympathies for the victims appeared in several countries including Greece, Egypt, Ukraine, Britain, Azerbaijan, Italy and Pakistan.

On Twitter, European Council President Charles Michel sent condolences to the victims after the “terrible news”.

Additional reporting by Azra Ceylan, Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Edited by Gareth Jones and Jane Merriman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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