Suicide bomber believed to have crossed into Turkey from Syria
A suicide bomber thought to have crossed recently from Syria killed at least 10 people, most of them German tourists, in Istanbul’s historic heart, in an attack Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed on Islamic State (IS).
All of those killed in Sultanahmet square, near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia — major tourist sites in the centre of one of the world’s most visited cities — were foreigners, Davutoglu said.
A senior Turkish official said nine were German, while Peru’s foreign ministry said a Peruvian man also died.
Deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said the bomber was believed to have recently entered Turkey from Syria but was not on Turkey’s watch list of suspected militants.
He said earlier that the bomber had been identified from body parts at the scene and was thought to be a Syrian born in 1988.
“We were spattered...with burnt human remains.”
A bomb blast in Istanbul left at least 10 dead and 15 injured.https://t.co/GGDSkDcMVV— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 12, 2016
Davutoglu said he had spoken by phone with German chancellor Angela Merkel to offer condolences and vowed Turkey’s fight against Islamic State, at home and as part of the US-led coalition, would continue.
“Until we wipe out Daesh, Turkey will continue its fight at home and with coalition forces,” he said in comments broadcast live on television, using an Arabic name for IS.
He vowed to hunt down and punish those linked to the bomber.
Several bodies lay on the ground in the square, also known as the Hippodrome of Constantinople, in the immediate aftermath of the blast.
It was not densely packed at the time of the explosion, according to a police officer working there, but small groups of tourists had been wandering around.
“This incident has once again shown that as a nation we should act as one heart, one body in the fight against terror.
"Turkey’s determined and principled stance in the fight against terrorism will continue to the end,” Turkey’s president, Tayyip Erdogan, told Turkish ambassadors in Ankara.
Norway’s foreign ministry said one Norwegian man was injured and was being treated in hospital.
Turkey, a Nato member and candidate for accession to the European Union, is part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State fighters who have seized territory in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, some of it directly abutting Turkey.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamist, leftist and Kurdish militants, who are battling Ankara in southeast Turkey, have all carried out attacks in the past.
The dull thud of the blast was heard in districts of Istanbul several kilometres away, residents said.
Television footage showed a police car which appeared to have been overturned by the force of the blast.
Tourist sites including the Hagia Sophia and nearby Basilica Cistern were closed on the governor’s orders, officials said.
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