A bomb blast on Istiklal Avenue of Istanbul on Sunday, bustled a pedestrian avenue killing six people, wounding several dozen and leaving panicked people to flee the fiery blast or huddle in cafes and shops, The Washington Post has reported.
Emergency vehicles were seen at the scene which is lined up with shops and restaurants that leads to the iconic Taksim Square.
Reacting to the bomb blast, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it is a “treacherous attack” promising that the perpetrators would be punished, adding the incident had the “smell of terror”.
The Washington Post reports that Sunday’s explosion was a shocking reminder of the anxiety and safety concerns that stalked the Turkish population during years when such attacks were common.
Recall that in recent years, Erdogan has led a broad crackdown on the militants as well as on Kurdish lawmakers and activists. Amid skyrocketing inflation and other economic troubles, Erdogan’s anti-terrorism campaign is a key rallying point for him ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
Although Erdogan, who left Sunday for the G20 Summit in Indonesia said six people were killed, the Vice President Fuat Oktay put the wounded toll to 81, with two in serious condition, and also said it appeared to be a terrorist attack.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told pro-government broadcaster A Haber that investigators were focusing on 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. He said her identity was not yet clear, nor was it clear what group might be behind the attack.
A manager of a restaurant near where the bomb went off said he heard the explosion and saw people running. The dozens of customers inside his restaurant, including women and children, panicked and screamed.
The manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said he closed his restaurant’s shutters, fearing there might be another explosion, and tried to calm the customers down. After about 15 to 25 minutes inside, he saw police on the avenue and organized the customers and his staff to leave in small groups.
Numerous foreign governments offered their condolences, including neighboring Greece with which relations are tense. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was “shocked and saddened by the news of the heinous attack.”
Following the attacks between 2015 and 2017 that left more than 500 civilians and security personnel dead, Turkey launched cross-border military operations into Syria and northern Iraq against Kurdish militants, while also cracking down on Kurdish politicians, journalists and activists at home.
The Washington Post