AS IT HAPPENED: ISIL suicide attack kills 10, injures 15 in Istanbul's Sultanahmet
ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
An explosion occurred on Jan. 12 in Istanbul’s touristic Sultanahmet Square, killing 10 while wounding at least 15, Istanbul governor's office has said.
According to reports by private broadcaster CNN Türk, the explosion occurred by the obelisk of Theodosius in the touristic Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul’s Fatih district.
According to Istanbul's governor's office, 10 people have been killed in the explosion while at least 15 people have been reported wounded.
5:00 p.m. The suicide bomber recently entered Turkey from Syria, Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmuş has told reporters.
4:55 p.m. Turkish PM says all victims killed in the Sultanahmet suicide attack are foreigners while the suicide bomber is an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant.
4:35 p.m. The suicide bomber who committed the attack in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square has been identified as Saudi-born Nabil Fadli. Investigations continue to reveal the militant’s connections, Doğan News Agency has reported.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş had announced at a press conference that the suicide bomber was a man of Syrian origin born in 1988.
4:00 p.m. The Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly president Anne Brasseur has “strongly condemned” the attack in Istanbul while expressing her support for Turkey and condolences to the Turkish people.
“Turkey can count on our support in combating terrorism and violent extremism. It is the duty of all democratic political forces to stand up against radicalisation and the hatred that fuel violent extremism and terrorism,” Brasseur’s statement said.
“We unequivocally condemn the abhorrent terrorist suicide attack that took place this morning in Istanbul,” the statement said, adding that Greece stands in solidarity with the Turkish people.
Davutoğlu has reportedly told Merkel that an investigation is being carried out delicately and that all necessary information will be shared with German authorities.
3:20 p.m. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Istanbul and extended his condolences to the families of the victims.
“My thoughts are with those injured, with the Turkish people, and with all the other nations affected,” he said.
“There can be no justification for such attacks. All NATO allies stand united in the fight against all forms of terrorism,” Stoltenberg added.
3:00 p.m. Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was very worried that German citizens might be among the victims and the wounded, Reuters has reported.
"International terrorism has shown its ugly face," said Merkel. "We need to act decisively against it."
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that German citizens may have died in an attack in Istanbul, and that Germans were almost certainly among the injured.
"By now we have to assume that also Germans have been injured in this terror attack," Steinmeier said at a news conference in Berlin. "We also can't exclude that Germans are among the dead."
Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni has reportedly called Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to extend his condolences.
“Italy and Turkey are more determined than ever to combat terrorism,” Gentiloni was quoted as saying in a statement by the Italian Foreign Ministry.
He confirmed that it was a suicide attack and that the suspect was of Syrian origin.
Systematic attacks have continued in Turkey since June 5 last year, Kurtulmuş said, asking for more international support and more coordination in the struggle against terrorism.
2:00 p.m. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu condemned the attack in a message posted to his official Twitter account.
“Those who aimed at our country with the treacherous attack in Sultanahmet will never reach their goal. I condemn terror and those who get nourished by terror with hatred,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Later, addressing a parliamentary group meeting of his party, he said the blast proved that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is not able to govern the party is getting it into more and more troubles instead.
“A bomb explodes at the heart of tourism, in Sultanahmet and you have no measures taken. Then what do you do? You impose a ban on reporting even before ambulances arrive [on the scene]. This government is not able to rule the country,” he said.
1:45 p.m. The European Union has also commented on Sultanahmet explosion in a statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
"Turkey has once again been targeted by a terrorist attack, this time on Sultanahmet Square in the heart of Istanbul's tourist district. The EU extends sincere condolences to the families of the victims killed in the bomb attack today and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
The EU and Turkey stand united against all forms of terrorism. The fight against terrorism was recognised as a priority at the EU-Turkey Summit on 29 November 2015 and we must step up our efforts in this regard in full respect of our obligations under international law, including human rights and humanitarian laws," the statement read.
1:25 p.m. Hour-long security meeting chaired by PM Davutoğlu has ended
1:15 p.m. Former Turkish President Abdullah Gül expressed his condolences to the families of the attack’s victims and urged unity against terror.
“Our citizens should support the government and the state in all related manners and act in accordance to its demands,” Gül has told reporters
1: 10 p.m. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş extended condolence to families of the victims who lost their lives in the blast which he called a “brutal massacre.”
“We condemn the massacre in Sultanahmet. We will not stop following [the blast] so as not to let it be left in the dark and to reveal the ones responsible,” Demirtaş said, while addressing a parliamentary group meeting of his party.
“May God rest the victims’ souls,” the tweet said, while wishing a quick recovery to all those wounded in the explosion.
Authorities are focusing on ISIL links because tourists and civilians were targeted in a touristic area.
12.21 Security meeting to be held at Çankaya Palace under the chairmanship of PM Davutoğlu.
According to sources from the Prime Ministry, Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmuş, Interior Minister Efkan Ala, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, National Intelligency Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and Director General of Public Security Celalettin Lekesiz will attend the meeting.
12.16 Six German citizens, one Norwegian and one Peruvian were among the three wounded people rushed to the Haseki Hospital, Doğan News Agency has reported.
12.15 Interior Minister Efkan Ala briefs Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for half an hour at the Prime Ministry residence. Davutoğlu has moved on to Çankaya Palace, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
11. 50 The official Twitter account of the British Ambassador to Turkey posted a tweet expressing "concern" at reports of the Sultanahmet explosion.
"In touch with Turkish authorities. Thoughts with those injured. Nationalities of victims currently unknown," the tweet said.
+ Thoughts with those injured. Nationalities of victims currently unknown.— Richard Moore (@UKAmbRichard) 12 Ocak 2016
11:44 The official twitter account of the United States Embassy in Ankara posted a tweet quoting U.S. Ambassador John Bass saying the U.S. is "closely following reports" on the explosion.
"Our thoughts are with those affected," the tweet said.
Ambassador Bass: Closely following reports of an explosion in #Sultanahmet. Our thoughts are with those affected…— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) 12 Ocak 2016
Some of hospitalized wounded are in critical condition, CNN Türk has said, amid fears the death toll might increase.
Three Turkish victims were brought to a hospital in Samatya, the broadcaster added, with one currently in surgery.
Çapa Hospital was cited as the hospital where most of the victims are being treated, though a clear number has not been provided.
Three German tourists with light wounds were reported to be at Cerrahpaşa Hospital.
Crime scene investigation teams and a bomb squad launched a helicopter investigation into the explosion.
Although the cause of the explosion remains unknown, police are focusing on the possibility of a suicide bomber, CNN Türk has reported.
Trams between Beyazıt and Eminönü stops were temporarily halted while the environs of Sultanahmet Square was closed to traffic.
A number of ambulances, police and fire trucks have been deployed to the scene.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala has arrived at the Prime Ministry residence in order to brief Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on the attack in Sultanahmet, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Meanwhile, a media blackout was imposed regarding the explosion.