Car Bomb Kills At Least 11, Wounds 36 In Central Istanbul

Eleven people have been killed and 36 injured in a bomb attack targeting a police vehicle in central Istanbul, the Turkish city’s governor has said.

The blast occurred at a busy junction in the Beyazit district, near an Istanbul University building, and was caused by a bomb placed inside a car that was detonated as the police vehicle passed by, Vasip Şahin said.

Seven of the dead were police officers, and three of the injured were in a critical condition, he added.

The police bus was overturned by the force of the blast, which also damaged nearby buildings and cars. A hotel’s entrance appeared gutted and windows had been blown out.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility and Şahin would not comment on who may have been behind the attack.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, condemned the attack, which occurred on the second day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. “They [the attackers] are cold-heartedly exploding bombs on a Ramadan day,” he said in a television interview.

The country is on high security alert after two deadly attacks in Istanbul this year blamed on Islamic State jihadis, and twin attacks in Ankara that killed dozens and were claimed by Kurdish militants.

The Ankara attacks were claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a radical splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK). PKK rebels have been targeting police and military targets since July when a fragile peace process collapsed.

The PKK is fighting for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds in the south-east of the country. It has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state in a conflict that has claimed 40,000 lives. The group is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and its allies.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    The war raging in neighboring Syria and Iraq continues to destabilize Turkey as spillover violence and increased fighting with the Kurds risks plunging the country into deeper instability.

    “Turkey is the new target of the proxy wars, especially when the latest developments in North Syria and Southeastern Anatolia are taken into consideration,” Prof. Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, head of the Center for International Strategy and Security Studies at Gazi University in Ankara told The Jerusalem Post, on Tuesday.

    “The PKK terror organization appears to be responsible for this terrorist attack in Istanbul,” he asserted, referring to the Kurdish group active in Turkey and bordering Iraq. He added that some actors are using terrorism to try to influence Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies.

    Asked if the latest bombing would push the government increase military operations in the southeastern Kurdish area, Erol responded, “All these developments’ main aim is to force Turkey into a military intervention in North Syria.”

    “Turkey is aware of this dangerous game. So, Ankara is taking steps carefully,” he added.

    Dr. Aykan Erdemir, a member of the Turkish parliament from 2011 to 2015 and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Post that this is the third large-scale bomb attack in Istanbul’s tourist districts within the last six months.

    “Although the earlier two attacks solely targeted tourists, today’s bomb was aimed at a police bus travelling through the historical district. The perpetrators seem to have employed a dual strategy: attacking security forces while also damaging Turkey’s tourism sector,” he said.

    Since January, the number of tourists visiting Istanbul has declined by 20 percent, he noted, adding that the city’s hotel occupancy rate is down 50%. “Today’s attack will further hurt Istanbul’s and Turkey’s struggling tourism sector.”

    The former Turkish lawmaker went on to say the attack “once again showed that Turkey’s fight against terror, whether it’s against the PKK or the Islamic State, cannot be limited to the country’s southeastern region.”

    He predicts that terrorist activity will continue to spill over to the western provinces of the country and serve as a grim reminder of the ongoing clashes in Turkey’s border area with Syria and Iraq.

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