Twin Bombing in Istanbul Kills Dozens, Wounds Over 100

ISTANBUL (Reuters) —
Police arrive at the site of an explosion in central Istanbul on Saturday night. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)
At the site of the attack in central Istanbul on Saturday night. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

A car bomb followed by a suicide bombing less than a minute later killed 29 people and wounded 166 outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul on Saturday night, Turkish officials said.

Twenty-seven of the dead were police officers and two were civilians, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. Soylu said 17 of the wounded were undergoing surgery and another six were in intensive care.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the suicide bomber had detonated 45 seconds after the car bomb.

Soylu said 10 people had been detained based on evidence from the detonated vehicle.

(Reuters/Murad Sezer)
(Reuters/Murad Sezer)

Earlier, President Tayyip Erdogan described the blasts outside the Vodafone Arena as a terrorist attack on police and civilians. He said the aim of the bombings, shortly after the end of a match attended by thousands of people, had been to cause the maximum number of casualties.

“As a result of these attacks, unfortunately, we have martyrs and wounded,” Erdogan said in a statement.

“Nobody should doubt that with G-d’s will, we as a country and a nation will overcome terror, terrorist organizations … and the forces behind them,” he said.

The attack shook a nation still trying to recover from a series of deadly bombings this year in cities including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, some blamed on Islamic State and others claimed by Kurdish militants.

“The flames went all the way up to the sky. I was drinking tea at the cafe next to the mosque,” said Omer Yilmaz, who works as a cleaner at the nearby Dolmabahce mosque, directly across the road from the stadium.

“People ducked under the tables; women began crying. Soccer fans drinking tea at the cafe sought shelter. It was horrible,” he told Reuters.

A damaged vehicle is seen after the blasts. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)
A damaged vehicle is seen after the blasts. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Islamic State, Kurdish and far-leftist groups have all carried out bomb attacks in Turkey before. The NATO member is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria, and is battling an insurgency by Kurdish militants in its southeast.

A Reuters photographer said many riot police officers were seriously wounded. Armed police sealed off streets. A police water cannon doused the wreckage of a burned-out car and there were two separate fires on the road outside the stadium.

Broadcaster NTV said one of the explosions had targeted a police vehicle that was leaving the stadium after fans had already dispersed.

“Those attacking our nation’s unity and solidarity will never win,” Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic said on Twitter.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned what he described as “horrific acts of terror,” while European leaders also sent messages of solidarity.

Saturday night’s attacks come five months after Turkey was shaken by a failed military coup, in which more than 240 people were killed, many of them in Istanbul, as rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a bid to seize power.

Istanbul has seen several other attacks this year, including in June, when around 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded as three suspected Islamic State terrorists carried out a gun and bomb attack on its main Ataturk airport.

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