Istanbul: By Turkey’s Haberturk television, at least ten people were killed after an explosion rocked a central Istanbul square on Tuesday, and several others were injured. The cause of the explosion in the Sultanahmet district is being investigated, but state-run TRT television said it was probably caused by a suicide bomber. By government official, the explosion was believed to be ‘terror-linked’.
The explosion, which could be heard over a wide area, hit a park that is home to a landmark obelisk, 30 yards from the historic Blue Mosque. Turkey’s Dogan news agency reported that at least six Germans, one Norwegian and a Peruvian were among the wounded, and Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said one South Korean had a finger injury. Police sealed off the area, barring people from approaching in case of a second explosion, and a police helicopter hovered overhead.
The Sultanahmet neighbourhood is Istanbul’s main sightseeing area and includes the Topkapi Palace and the Haghia Sophia museum. Erdem Koroglu, who was working at a nearby office, told NTV television he saw several people on the ground following the blast. ‘It was difficult to say who was alive or dead,’ Mr Koroglu said. ‘Buildings rattled from the force of the explosion.’
Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu immediately convened a security meeting with the country’s interior minister and other officials. As with previous attacks, authorities imposed a news blackout, barring media from showing images of the dead or injured or reporting any details of the investigation. Turkey suffered two major bombing attacks last year, both blamed on Islamic State.
More than 30 people were killed in a suicide attack in the town of Suruc, near Turkey’s border with Syria, in July. Two suicide bombs exploded in October outside Ankara’s main train station as people gathered for a peace rally, killing more than 100 in Turkey’s deadliest attack. The prosecutor’s office said that attack was carried out by a local IS cell.