A twin bomb attack in the heart of Istanbul that killed at least 44 people following a top-tier football game has sent the nation into mourning and great anger, with thousands hitting the streets in protest.
At least 30 of the victims of the attack, which targeted a police vehicle, were officers, while seven of them were civilians, according to initial reports by state officials with the identity of one victim remained unknown.
Early on Dec. 12, another civilian identified as Selin Çelik, who was wounded inside a bus in the attack, succumbed to her injuries in intensive care.
Some 155 people were wounded in the attack near Beşiktaş’s Vodafone Arena Stadium, after a Beşiktaş-Bursaspor game, just minutes after some fans had left the facility.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said “there is no doubt” that the attack was carried out by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
“They should know that we won’t leave them unpunished. They should know that they are going to pay a heavy price,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
told journalists, after visiting the wounded in the hospital.
“My people should have no doubt that we will carry out the struggle against terror until the very end. We wore our burial robes when we took this road,” he said.
“All terror groups are equally vile,” Yıldırım told journalists after visiting the wounded.
“The terrorist groups in despair, who are attacking the unity and fraternity of our nation, are presenting all their shamelessness in order to make an impression,” Yıldırım said.
“Turkish people can beat all organizations just like it did on the night of the failed coup attempt,” he said, referring to the July 15 attempt that was foiled by the security forces and the civilians hitting the street.
“Terror is a blind street. Terror only hurts. But in the end it destroys itself. We’ve been through massive tests. I believe that we will also succeed in this,” the prime minister said.
Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmuş also said all indicators pointed to PKK
as the perpetrator.
“The arrows point at the PKK,” Kurtulmuş told broadcaster CNN Türk in an interview. “There will be an announcement once the investigations are over.”
Thirteen suspects have been detained in connection to the attack, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said. A total of six prosecutors were assigned to investigate the attack.
“Have you gone past the point of living in caves like animals?” he asked, referring to the perpetrators. “Do you have a life other than living like fugitives and treachery?”
The first explosion came from a moving car that directly targeted riot police near the stadium, Kurtulmuş said in a press meeting earlier in the day. The second attack came 45 seconds after the first one when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at Maçka Park just across from the stadium after he was surrounded by police.
The huge blasts occurred at around 10:20 p.m., around 90 minutes after a match between Beşiktaş
and Bursaspor ended at the nearby ground. It was heard on both sides of the Bosphorus.
Following the attack, Bursaspor stated on its official Twitter account that there were no injuries among its supporters.
One of the civilian victims was a 21-year-old student, Berkay Akbaş.
“My son was at the scene of the blast. I can’t get a hold of him,” his father wrote on social media before he was identified.
Beşiktaş announced that one of the civilians killed was Tunç Uncu, a staff member at the Beşiktaş
store while the other was a congress member and a police officer.
Uncu, who happily posed for a photo with Beşiktaş
left back Caner Erkin a week ago, was laid to rest in a ceremony attended by the squad.
Vefa Karakurdu, the police officer in charge of security during the game, reportedly told his friends just before the attack that the game between the archrivals occurred “without any incident.”
Police chief Karakurdu, police chief Kadir Yıldırım and police officers Adem Oğuz, İlker Uylaş and Hasan Bilgin were laid to rest after a funeral held at Istanbul police headquarters on Vatan Avenue in Fatih.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) expressed condolences to the relatives of the victims, vowing that the fight against terrorism would continue “until the last terrorist is neutralized.”
The Turkish Football Federation
(TFF) announced that planned matches would go ahead but would be proceeded with a moment of silence beforehand, Doğan News Agency reported.