Turkey blast: At least 10 killed in explosion carried out by ISIS | World Defense

Turkey blast: At least 10 killed in explosion carried out by ISIS

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Turkey blast: At least 10 killed in explosion in historic Sultanahmet square in Istanbul



Istanbul: A suicide bomber thought to have crossed recently from Syria killed at least 10 people, most of them German tourists, in Istanbul's historic heart on Tuesday, in an attack Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed on Islamic State.

All of those killed in Sultanahmet square, near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia - major tourist sites in the centre of one of the world's most visited cities - were foreigners, Davutoglu said. A senior official said nine were German.


Turkish forensic police officers search for evidence at the site of the suicide bombing, in the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. Photo: AP

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the bomber was believed to have recently entered Turkey from Syria but was not on Turkey's watch list of suspected militants. He said earlier that the bomber had been identified from body parts at the scene and was thought to be a Syrian born in 1988.

Davutoglu said he had spoken by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to offer condolences and vowed Turkey's fight against Islamic State, at home and as part of the US-led coalition, would continue.

"Until we wipe out Daesh, Turkey will continue its fight at home and with coalition forces," he said in comments broadcast live on television, using an Arabic name for Islamic State. He vowed to hunt down and punish those linked to the bomber.


Ambulances and police arrive at the blast site after an explosion in central Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet district. Photo: Getty Images

Several bodies lay on the ground in the square, also known as the Hippodrome of Constantinople, in the immediate aftermath of the blast. It was not densely packed at the time of the explosion, according to a police officer working there, but small groups of tourists had been wandering around.

"This incident has once again shown that as a nation we should act as one heart, one body in the fight against terror. Turkey's determined and principled stance in the fight against terrorism will continue to the end," President Tayyip Erdogan told a lunch for Turkish ambassadors in Ankara.

Norway's foreign ministry said one Norwegian man was injured and was being treated in hospital. The Dogan news agency said nine Germans and one Peruvian were also wounded.


Lucky escape: Melbourne businesswoman Mikala James and her father Brian were on their way to the square when they heard the explosion. Photo: Supplied

Turkey, a NATO member and candidate for accession to the European Union, is part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State fighters who have seized territory in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, some of it directly abutting Turkey.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamist, leftist and Kurdish militants, who are battling Ankara in southeast Turkey, have all carried out attacks in the past.

"We heard a loud sound and I looked at the sky to see if it was raining because I thought it was thunder but the sky was clear," said Kuwaiti tourist Farah Zamani, 24, who was shopping at one of the covered bazaars with her father and sister.


A policeman stands in front of the Blue Mosque in the historic Sultanahmet district after the explosion. Photo: AP
 

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An official from one tour company who declined to be identified told Reuters that a tourist group from Germany was in the area at the time of the blast.

"The explosion was very loud. We shook a lot. We ran out and saw body parts," one woman who works at a nearby antiques store told Reuters, declining to give her name.

Ambulances rushed to the scene, ferrying away the wounded as police cordoned off streets.


Police secure the historic Sultanahmet district after the explosion. Photo: AP

"We're taking precautions against a second explosion," the police officer said, ushering people out of the square.

Melbourne businesswoman Mikala James and her father were in the streets of Istanbul, en route to Sultanahmet Square, when the bomb went off.

"We heard the explosion and then there was a chill in the air," Ms James said.


Bad for tourism: A vendor waits for customers at the near-empty plaza in front of the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, in the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, following the explosion. Photo: AP

"Dad said to me it sounded like a building demolition but I'd never heard a sound like that before."

Ms James said they were on their way to a meeting at the Sultanahmet Square district, which is often crowded with locals and tourists visiting monuments.

Her father, Brian, said it was sheer luck that they stopped at a cafe and were running behind schedule.

"We thank our lucky stars, otherwise we would have been right in the middle of it," he said.

"It's a beautiful, friendly city with magnificent people, but everyone is on edge this morning."

'Unimaginable scene'

The dull thud of the blast was heard in districts of Istanbul several kilometres away, residents said. Television footage showed a police car which appeared to have been overturned by the force of the blast.

Tourist sites including the Hagia Sophia and nearby Basilica Cistern were closed on the governor's orders, officials said.

"At first we thought it was percussion bomb, it was so loud. They attacked Sultanahmet to grab attention because this is what the world thinks of when it thinks of Turkey," said Kursat Yilmaz, who has operated tours for 25 years from an office by the square.

"We're not surprised this happened here, this has always been a possible target," he said.

Ambulances ferried away the wounded as police cordoned off streets. The sound of the call to prayer rang out from the Blue Mosque as forensic police officers worked at the scene.

"It was unimaginable," the police officer who had been working on the square said, describing an amateur video he had seen of the immediate aftermath, with six or seven bodies lying on the ground and other people seriously wounded.

Just over a year ago, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a police station for tourists off the same square, killing one officer. That attack was initially claimed by a far-left group, the DHKP-C, but officials later said it had been carried out by a woman with suspected Islamist militant links.

"Ambulances started rushing in and I knew it was a bomb right away because the same thing happened here last year," said Ali Ibrahim Peltek, 40, who operates a kiosk selling snacks and drinks on the square. "This is not good for Turkey but everyone was expecting a terrorist attack."

Turkey a target

Turkey has become a target for Islamic State, with two bombings last year blamed on the radical Sunni Muslim group, in the town of Suruc near the Syrian border and in the capital Ankara, the latter killing more than 100 people.

Just over a year ago, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a police station for tourists off the same square, killing one officer and wounding another. That attack was initially claimed by a far-left group, but officials later said it had been perpetrated by a woman with suspected Islamist militant links.

Turkey has become a target for Islamic State, with two bombings last year blamed on the radical Sunni Muslim group, in the town of Suruc near the Syrian border and in the capital Ankara, the latter killing more than 100 people.

Violence has also escalated in the mainly Kurdish southeast since a two-year ceasefire collapsed in July between the state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has been fighting for three decades for Kurdish autonomy.

The PKK has however generally avoided attacking civilian targets in urban centres outside the southeast in recent years.

Turkey also sees a threat from the PYD and YPG, Kurdish groups in Syria which are fighting Islamic State with US backing, but which Ankara says have close links to the PKK.

"For us, there is no difference between the PKK, PYD, YPG, DHKP-C ... or whatever their abbreviation may be. One terrorist organisation is no different than the other," Erdogan said, vowing that Turkey's military campaign against Kurdish militants in the southeast would continue.

Davutoglu's office imposed a broadcasting ban on the blast, invoking a law which allows for such steps when there is the potential for serious harm to national security or public order.

The attack raised fears of further damage to Turkey's vital tourism industry, already hit by a diplomatic row with Moscow which has seen Russian tour operators cancel trips.

"Ambulances started rushing in and I knew it was a bomb right away because the same thing happened here last year," said Ali Ibrahim Peltek, 40, who operates a kiosk selling snacks and drinks on the square.

"This is not good for Turkey but everyone was expecting a terrorist attack," he said.

But Yilmaz, the tour operator, said he had sold a package to a tourist from Colombia just an hour after the blast.

"The reality is the world has grown accustomed to terrorism. It's unfortunate, and I wish it weren't true, but terrorism now happens everywhere," he said.

"The agenda changes quickly in this age. If tourism is affected by this, it will be temporary. These things pass, but the Hagia Sophia and the Sultanahmet mosque are eternal."
 

Lieutenant

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My thoughts are with the injured and RIP to the dead.

Now Turkey should collaborate with the regional powes to put an end to ISIS and Assad.
 

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How the hell he managed to reach the heart of Istanbul? My thoughts and prayer are with those dead and injured and solidarity with Turkey and its people.
 

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frightening how easily accessible everyone is I guess when there is a target there is not stopping them and they can get in and out easily after training to do exactly what they went in for! countries security should be more alert
 

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Lets see if the world is going to react the same as they reacted to the terrorist attack in France.
 

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This should put to an end speculation that Turkey's unwillingness to fight ISIS was because they bought oil from them. The Russians made the accusation late last year.

Regardless of why the Turks were unwilling to play a more active role fighting the terrorists this attack should get them off the sidelines. What happened to that coalition that was supposed to fight terrorism?

p.s May the dead rest in peace.
 

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How the hell he managed to reach the heart of Istanbul? My thoughts and prayer are with those dead and injured and solidarity with Turkey and its people.
2.5 million refugees scattered all over Turkiye,how hard could it be?

Now Turkey should collaborate with the regional powes to put an end to ISIS and Assad.
Didnt we already collaborate?
 

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Lets see if the world is going to react the same as they reacted to the terrorist attack in France.
Why should they,even if most of the killed are Germans,its not Western Europe.
 

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This should put to an end speculation that Turkey's unwillingness to fight ISIS was because they bought oil from them. The Russians made the accusation late last year.

Regardless of why the Turks were unwilling to play a more active role fighting the terrorists this attack should get them off the sidelines. What happened to that coalition that was supposed to fight terrorism?

p.s May the dead rest in peace.
Im sure by now,you must have understood,what it is all about.
Nobody cares for destroying ISIS or the lives of the innocent in between.
There are two camps fighting each other,thats all.
 

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I respect all everyone and RIP to the dead and i hope the wounded feel better soon. Germany should start working more with Turkey to fight ISIS.
 

Redheart

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It's too late to solve the problems in the Middle East. The divisions that do exist and the negative precedent set by ISIS make it close to impossible. I'm sure that even though there may be lulls in the fighting there'll always be some group causing trouble. And there's also the Sunni-Shia conflict(s)— these will keep the Middle East always at war for a really long time.
 

T-123456

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there's also the Sunni-Shia conflict(s)
Its all about that conflict and a pipeline(from Iran to the Mediterranean or from the GCC to Turkiye),nothing else.
Believe me,the minute this conflict is somewhat ''over''(if ever),the world wont see,hear or talk about ISIS(as if it never existed).
 
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