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

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© Reuters. Ambulances and security are seen after an explosion on the busy pedestrian street Istiklal in Istanbul, Turkey, November 13, 2022. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

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By David Gauthier-Villars, Azra Ceylan and Ece Toksabay

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Six people were killed and 81 others injured on Sunday when an explosion rocked a busy pedestrian street in central Istanbul in what Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called a The bombing “smells like terrorism”.

Hundreds of people fled the historic Istiklal Avenue after the explosion as ambulances and police arrived. The area, in the district of Beyoglu, Turkey’s largest city, is as crowded as usual on weekends with shoppers, tourists and families.

Video obtained by Reuters shows the time of the explosion at 4:13 p.m. (1313 GMT), sending debris into the air and leaving some people on the ground, while others tripped.

Hours after the explosion, Vice President Fuat Oktay arrived at the scene to announce the latest death and injury toll, and promised to resolve the matter “very soon”.

Authorities later said a government ministry employee and his daughter were among the dead. Five people are in intensive care in the hospital, two of them in critical condition.

No one claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Istanbul and other Turkish cities have been previously targeted by Kurdish separatists, Islamist rebels and other groups, including a series of attacks in 2015 and 2016.

“Attempts to defeat Turkey and the Turkish people through terrorism will fail today just as they did yesterday and tomorrow,” Erdogan told a news conference before flying to Indonesia. attend the G20 summit.

“Our people can rest assured that the perpetrators… will be properly punished,” he said, adding that initial information indicated “a woman played a role” in it.

“It would be wrong to say this was definitely a terrorist attack but the initial developments and initial intelligence from my governor is that it smells of terror,” he added.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was quoted by Anadolu as saying that a woman sat on a bench for more than 40 minutes before leaving minutes before the explosion, indicating a bomb was timed to explode or was detonated remotely. .

‘FROZEN PEOPLE’

Reuters footage showed people tending to victims after the blast, and then investigators dressed in white collecting documents from the scene, where fragments of a concrete planter were scattered across the floor. boulevard, where there are many shops and restaurants.

Mehmet Akus, 45, a restaurant worker in Istiklal, said: “When I heard the explosion, I was petrified, everyone stopped, looked at each other. Then people started running. What else can I do?”

“My relatives called me, they knew I worked on Istiklal. I reassured them,” he told Reuters.

A helicopter flew over the scene and several ambulances were parked in nearby Taksim Square. The Turkish Red Crescent said blood had been delivered to nearby hospitals.

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

Double bombings outside a football stadium in Istanbul in December 2016 killed 38 people and wounded 155 in an attack claimed by an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). ), which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

Condemnations for the attack and condolences for the victims were sent from a number of countries including Greece, Egypt, Ukraine, Britain, Azerbaijan, Italy and Pakistan.

On Twitter, European Council President Charles Michel offered his condolences to the victims after “terrifying news”.

(Additional writing and reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Gareth Jones and Jane Merriman)



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