Istanbul blast that killed 6 and injured 81 is considered a terrorist attack, Turkish vice president says | CNN
An explosion that killed at least six people and injured at least 81 others in Istantbul on Sunday has been deemed a terrorist attack, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said, according to state news agency Anadolu.
“We consider it to be a terrorist act as a result of an attacker, whom we consider to be a woman, detonating the bomb,” Oktay told reporters Sunday.
The blast happened on Istiklal Street in Beyoglu Square, in the heart of Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said.
“We wish God’s mercy on those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to the injured,” Yerlikaya tweeted.
Earlier Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the explosion might be terror-related, but he was not yet certain.
“It may be wrong if we say this is definitely terror, but according to preliminary findings, what my governors told us, that there is a smell of terror here,” Erdogan said at a news conference.
He said authorities were reviewing CCTV footage.
“All the responsible figures will be identified and punished,” the president said.
Erdogan said he and his delegation would continue plans to attend the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Istanbul’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation, with five public prosecutors assigned, the country’s official Anadolu news agency reported.
The city’s criminal court issued a broadcast ban on all visual and audio news, as well on social media sites, related to the explosion, Anadolu added.
Local media reports and images from the area showed a large number of emergency vehicles in the aftermath of the blast. Some people could be seen fleeing the scene, and the area was being cordoned off by security services.
One witness, journalist Tariq Keblaoui, told CNN he was in a store on Istiklal Street when the explosion occurred about 10 meters ahead of him.
He said several people could be seen lying on the ground following the blast.
The extent of the injuries of those he saw was not clear, but several people were bleeding from their legs and arms, Keblaoui said.
He said Istiklal Street, a popular tourist area, was heavily crowded on Sunday. Istiklal Street is one of the main streets leading to Taksim Square.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu called for assistance for police and health worker teams as they respond to the explosion.
“It is essential to assist our police and health teams regarding the explosion on Istiklal Street, and to avoid posts that may cause fear and panic. All relevant teams are in the region, we will provide healthy information,” he tweeted.
News of the explosion was met with dismay internationally.
“Horrific news from Istanbul tonight. Condolences to the victims of the explosion at Istiqlal,” European Council President Charles Michel said. “All our thoughts are with those currently responding and the people of Türkiye at this very distressing time.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted his “deepest condolences” to the Turkish people, adding that NATO “stands in solidarity with our ally” Turkey.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen expressed his “sincere condolences to the people of Turkey and the citizens of Istanbul,” adding: “In view of the horrific explosion this afternoon in the heart of Beyoğlu my thoughts are with the families of the victims. Wishing a speedy recovery to all injured.”
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said: “Italy expresses its closeness to the Turkish government and people and its heartfelt condolences for the innocent victims. Our crisis unit is monitoring the situation and contacting our compatriots.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted of his “deep sadness” at the news of the blast. “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.”