Istanbul car bomb targets riot police
Riot police secure the bomb scene in Istanbul. Source: YouTube
A car bomb ripped through a police bus in downtown Istanbul amid the morning rush hour, killing 11 people and wounding 36 others.
The explosives were detonated as three buses passed, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin told a press conference. It is the fourth major bombing in Turkey’s largest city during 2016.
Kurdish groups have staged similar attacks on the security forces, including one last month in central Istanbul but no group has claimed responsibility. President Tayyip Erdogan said he would lead the fight against terrorism, saying it was “unforgivable” to attack police officers. “We will continue our fight against these terrorists until the end, tirelessly and fearlessly,” he told the press following a visit to the injured in hospital.
Sahin said seven police officers and four civilians had died, with the buses carrying members of a riot police squad. Three of the 36 injured were in critical condition, the governor added.
US National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh said: “This horrific act is only the most recent of many terrorist attacks against Turkey. The United States stands together with Turkey, a Nato ally and valued partner, as we confront many challenges in the region.”
A rented car was blown up by remote control, the Dogan news agency reported, adding that four suspects were being held. The attack hit the Vezneciler district, between the headquarters of the municipal government and the Istanbul University campus, near the historic centre. It shattered windows at the famous 16th-century Ottoman mosque, Sehzadebasi, and other buildings.
“There was a loud bang, we thought it was lightning but right at that second the windows of the shop came down. It was extremely scary,” said a shopkeeper called Cevher. It knocked the goods off the shelves in his store, he said.
The European Union said it would stand by Turkey.
As the news came through, the EU and Turkey were debating conditions for a significant deal that has already eased the migration crisis for the bloc while giving Turkey several concessions, including the promise of visa-free travel within the European Union.
The EU announced: “We reiterate our continuing solidarity to Turkey, its government and its people and reaffirm our commitment to work closely together to fight the global threat of terrorism.”