A male suicide bomber injured at least twenty-two people in an attack aimed at a police unit in the busiest local and tourist district in Istanbul on Sunday morning, the city governor’s office said.
The injured, including ten civilians and twelve policemen, were taken to four nearby hospitals for treatment.
“We do not yet have information on the aim or nature of the attack,” Huseyin Avni Mutlu, the Istanbul Governor said in a live televised statement. “Nevertheless, this is an act of terror.”
Television networks reported that the police were investigating a second suspect.
The bombing occured in Taksim Square in the Beyoglu district, popular among tourists and locals.
Police cordoned off the site of the explosion and entirely blocked pedestrian and vehicle traffic around the neighborhood.
In 2003, a local fundamentalist network loyal to Al Qaeda had killed more than 60 and injured hundreds in attacks targeting a synagogue and the British Consulate in Beyoglu district as well as the headquarters of the British HSBC Bank in Levent neighborhood.
Television pictures showed the body of the suicide bomber lying close to the statue of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, that marks the very centre of the square in Beyoglu’s Taksim area.
Istanbul police units often keep a mobile station at the square with shuttle busses and special riot units to ensure security in a district popular among tourists.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, has been engaged in an armed struggle against Turkish Armed Forces to claim autonomy in the predominantly Kurdish southeast since early 1980s and often staged attacks in busy urban areas, targeting civilians.
The one sided ceasefire issued by the group to allow politicians offer a permanent solution expired today, however, officials refused to comment on the PKK’s possible links with the attack in Taksim.
Turkey celebrated the foundation of the Republic on Friday in official ceremonies throughout the country, in the midst of continuing efforts to resolve the Kurdish armed conflict that has so far claimed more than 40,000 lives. NYT