Turkish suicide bombing earns global condemnation
At least 10, mostly German tourists, killed in blast
A suicide bomber affiliated with the Islamic State group detonated a bomb in a historic district of Istanbul popular with tourists Tuesday morning, killing at least 10 people — nine of them German tourists — and wounding 15 others, Turkish officials said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the bomber who carried out the attack in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district was a member of IS and pledged to battle the militant group until it no longer “remains a threat” to Turkey or the world.
Davutoglu described the attacker as a “foreign national.” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus had previously said the perpetrator was born in 1988 and was a Syrian national, but the private Dogan news agency claimed the bomber was Saudi-born.
“Turkey won’t backtrack in its struggle against Daesh by even one step,” Davutoglu said, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.
“This terror organization, the assailants and all of their connections will be found and they will receive the punishments they deserve.”
Turkey’s state-run news agency said Davutoglu held a telephone conversation with German chancellor Angela Merkel to express his condolences.
A senior government official confirmed that most of the victims were German. Merkel had earlier said they were part of a German travel group.
“I strongly condemn the terror incident that occurred in Istanbul, at the Sultanahmet Square, and which has been assessed as being an attack by a Syria-rooted suicide bomber,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Davutoglu said the death toll of 10 did not include the suicide bomber. Merkel, speaking at a news conference in Berlin, decried the attack.
“Today Istanbul was hit; Paris has been hit, Tunisia has been hit, Ankara has been hit before,” she said. “International terrorism is once again showing its cruel and inhuman face today.”
The explosion, which could be heard from several neighbourhoods, was at a park that is home to a landmark obelisk, some 25 metres (yards) from the historic Blue Mosque.
Turkey’s Dogan news agency reported that one Norwegian and one Peruvian were also among the wounded, and Seoul’s Foreign Ministry told reporters via text message that a South Korean had a finger injury.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry told news agency NTB that the Norwegian tourist was slightly hurt and was being treated in a local hospital.
Kurtulmus, the deputy premier, said two of the wounded were in serious condition.
Police sealed 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 former Byzantine church of Haghia Sophia, now a 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,” Koroglu said. “Buildings rattled from the force of the explosion.”
Halil Ibrahim Peltek, a shopkeeper near the area of the blast told The Associated Press it had “an earthquake effect.”
People believed to be German tourists that were targeted at an explosion in the historic Sultanahmet district are escorted back to their hotel in Istanbul Tuesday.