At least 20 wounded in twin Istanbul explosions
ISTANBUL, Turkey — One of two bombings that occurred in Istanbul on Saturday night is considered a suicide attack, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said, according to Turkish official news agency Anadolu.
Soylu said a suicide bomber struck at Macka Park. The other explosion was near Besiktas Vodafone Arena.
At least 20 people were wounded on Saturday evening after twin explosions rocked Istanbul near Besiktas Vodafone Arena.
The explosions, one large blast followed by a smaller one, occurred after a football game, reported CNN Turkey.
“A car bomb” was the source of the explosions, according to Turkish state news agency TRT, citing Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.
“We condemn the vile terror attack in Besiktas, Istanbul and wish quick recoveries to the injured,” Transportation Minister Ahmet Arslan tweeted shortly after the blasts.
Besiktas had played Bursaspor in a Turkey League game at the football arena earlier the same day. The building is close to Taksim Square, a major tourist area in Istanbul.
TRT reported the blasts targeted police. However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Following the blasts, police began towing cars parked near Taksim Square as a precaution.
Ramazan Hakki Oztan, a historian from Istanbul who was attending a casual gathering near the stadium, told CNN she saw both explosions.
“We were at this hotel with this nice view of the old city by Taksim Square,” she said. “We saw this huge explosion that happened by the stadium. … And 10 seconds, or 15 seconds after there was another explosion. … The second bomb was smaller in size.”
She said she was near the arena earlier in the day and noticed a heavy police presence.
“I think they targeted the cops that were out there by the stadium who were protecting the spectators,” she said.
Turkey has weathered a string of terror attacks over the past several years and is still reeling from a bloody, but failed attempt at a military coup in July.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency following the coup attempt, as authorities carried out a large number of arrests.
ISIS is suspected in a June attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport that left 44 people dead, and an explosion at an August wedding in Gaziantep, not far from the border with Syria, that killed at least 54 people.
Meanwhile, Turkish security forces continue to clash on a nearly daily basis with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, mostly in predominantly Kurdish parts of southeastern Turkey. The Turkish army suspects the PKK was behind a September car bombing in southeast Turkey that killed at least 18 people. Other attacks have targeted Turkish police and army assets.
Adding to the sense of vulnerability, conflicts in Iraq and Syria have spilled over into Turkey, contributing to a surge in violence on the home front. The country also struggles with the burden of hosting millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
In late October, The US government ordered all civilian family members of its Istanbul consulate staff to leave Turkey because of increasing threats from terrorist organizations.
In March, the Pentagon ordered family members to leave Incirlik Airbase in southeast Turkey and the State Department ordered families of employees of the US consulate in Adana to evacuate.