Car bomb kills at least 11 in central Istanbul
ISTANBULA car bomb targeting a police vehicle in Istanbul’s Vezneciler neighborhood during the morning rush hour killed 11 people, six of whom were police officers, while wounding 36 others on June 7.
A bomb-laden car was detonated at around 8:35 a.m. as a police bus was passing near a police station, Istanbul Gov. Vasip Şahin told reporters, in the third major bombing in the country’s biggest city in 2016.
Ambulances and bomb disposal teams were immediately sent to the scene of the attack, while security measures were increased in the area.
Şahin said the dead included six police officers and five civilians and that the attack had targeted vehicles carrying members of a riot police unit. Three of the 36 wounded were in critical condition, he said.
Six of the killed police officers were identified as Ramazan Kırboğa, Emrah Pekdoğan, Kadir Cihan Karagözlü, Duha Beker and Gökhan Topçü, as well as the bus’ driver, Yaşar Özlem.
Meanwhile, the killed civilians have been identified as Ahmet Bayraktar, Elif Tutuş İnce, Esra Tekin and Hakan Tekin.
The bomb-laden car used in the attack was rented and detonated using a remote control, Doğan News Agency reported. Four suspects who rented the car have been detained.
The blast on the second day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan hit the Vezneciler district, between the headquarters of the local municipality and the campus of Istanbul University, not far from the city’s historic heart. It shattered windows in shops and a mosque and scattered debris over nearby streets.
Gunshots were also heard after the explosion, a number of news agencies reported.
“We were told that it was police trying to keep people away from the blast scene,” said Mustafa Çelik, 51, who owns a tourism agency in a backstreet near the blast site. He likened the impact of the explosion to an earthquake.
“I felt the pressure as if the ground beneath me moved. I’ve never felt anything this powerful before,” he was reported as saying by Reuters.
There was confusion as to whether attackers had opened fire or whether police officers had been trying to protect colleagues.
The police bus was heading to the Istanbul University for regular duty, according to reports. Exams scheduled for today at the university were cancelled.
The police bus that appeared to have borne the brunt of the explosion was tipped onto its roof on the side of the road. A second police bus was also damaged. The charred wreckage of several other vehicles lined the street.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have staged similar attacks on security forces before, including one last month in Istanbul.
Turkey has suffered a spate of bombings this year, including two suicide attacks in tourist areas of Istanbul blamed on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and two car bombings in the capital, Ankara, which were claimed by an offshoot of the PKK, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK).