Turkey blamed the Kurdish PKK for the Istanbul Bombing

World | November 14, 2022, Monday // 09:03|  views


Turkey's interior minister has accused the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) of being responsible for a bombing on a busy shopping street in Istanbul that killed six people and injured more than 80.

On Sunday afternoon, an explosion rocked Istiklal Street, a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists.

One suspect was arrested in the early hours of Monday.

"The person who planted the bomb has been arrested," Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in a statement reported by the official Anadolu Agency.

"According to our data, the terrorist organization PKK is responsible," he said.

The PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara as well as its Western allies, has maintained a deadly insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s.

The group, which is regularly targeted by Turkish military operations, is also at the center of a dispute between Sweden and Turkey, which has blocked Stockholm's entry into NATO since May, accusing it of leniency to the PKK.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the "vile attack" on Istiklal Street.

"Perhaps we would be wrong to say for sure that this is terror, but according to the first signs ... it smells like terrorism," Erdogan told a news conference on Sunday.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said: "We believe it is a terrorist act carried out by an attacker who we believe is a woman who detonated the bomb."

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said: "A woman sat on one of the benches for more than 40 minutes and then got up. One or two minutes later the explosion happened," he told A Haber television.

"There are two possibilities," he said. "Either there's a mechanism in that bag and it exploded, or someone detonated it (remotely)."

"All data on this woman is currently being verified," he said. Soilu's message did not add any details about the woman.

Istiklal, located in the historic Beyoglu district, is one of the most famous streets in Istanbul. It is entirely pedestrianized and is 1.4 km long. Crossed by an old tram line, it is dotted with shops and restaurants, attracting large crowds at the weekend.

In the neighboring district of Galata, many shops closed early, and some passers-by who fled the scene of the explosion were crying, an AFP correspondent reported.

Turkey's radio and television watchdog RTUK banned broadcasters from showing footage of the blast, a measure that has been taken before in the wake of extremist attacks.

After the attack, access to social media was also restricted.

Greece reacted swiftly, "unequivocally" condemning the blast and expressing condolences to the government and people of Turkey.

The United States also condemned the attack, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying: "We stand shoulder to shoulder with our NATO ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism."

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a message to the Turkish people: "We share your pain. We stand by you in the fight against terrorism."

"I am shaken by the news of the vile bombing in Istanbul targeting innocent civilians," Israeli President Isaac Herzog tweeted in Turkish and English. "The whole world must stand united and firm against terror".

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also tweeted in Turkish: "The pain of the friendly Turkish people is also our pain."

EU Council President Charles Michel offered his condolences to Turkey, tweeting: "My thoughts are with the victims and their families."

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Tags: Istiklal, bombing, turkey, Kurds


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