Six dead, several injured in blast in central Istanbul – ARY NEWS

Six dead, several injured in blast in central Istanbul – ARY NEWS

ISTANBUL: Six people were killed and 81 others sustained injuries when an explosion rocked Istanbul’s popular pedestrian Istiklal Avenue, sending people running from the fiery blast, according to Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In a televised press conference, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the “vile attack” that ripped through central Istanbul. “The relevant units of our state are working to find the perpetrators… behind this vile attack,” he said.
Erdogan further that initial signs pointed to a “terror” attack in the explosion. “It might be wrong if we say for sure that this is terror but according to first signs… there is a smell of terror there,” he added.
Four people died at the spot and two succumbed to injuries in the hospital, Erdogan said. Another 53 were wounded, according to information he received from the Istanbul governor.
Ambulances rushed to the scene on the packed Istiklal Avenue, which police quickly cordoned off. The area, in the Beyoglu district of Turkey’s largest city, had been crowded as usual at the weekend with shoppers, tourists and families.
State broadcaster TRT and state-owned Anadolu agency said the cause of the blast was not yet known. Meanwhile, Turkey’s RTUK regulator imposed a broadcast ban on coverage of the blast around an hour after it occurred.

A Reuters reporter saw a helicopter overhead and several ambulances in nearby Taksim Square.
“When I heard the explosion, I was petrified, people froze, looking at each other. Then people started running away. What else can you do,” said Mehmet Akus, 45, a worker in a restaurant on Istiklal.
“My relatives called me, they know I work on Istiklal. I reassured them,” he said.
The nearby Kasimpasa police station told Reuters all crews were at the scene but gave no further details. The Turkish Red Crescent said blood was being transferred to nearby hospitals.
Local media said crime inspectors were on the scene and Anadolu reported that the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office had launched an investigation into the blast.
While the cause of the blast was unknown, Istanbul and other Turkish cities have been targeted in the past by Kurdish separatists, Islamist militants and other groups.
“My condolences to those who lost their lives in the explosion on Istiklal Avenue,” Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said on Twitter.
According to images posted on social media at the time of the explosion, it was accompanied by flames and immediately triggered panic, with people running in all directions.
If confirmed, it would be the first major bomb blast in Istanbul in several years.
Twin bombings outside an Istanbul soccer stadium in December 2016 killed 38 people and wounded 155 in an attack claimed by an offshoot of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Condemnations of the attack and condolences for the victims rolled in from several countries including Greece, Egypt, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Pakistan.
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