In one of the deadliest attacks in Turkey, a bomb attack shook a bustling pedestrian avenue in the heart of one of Istanbul’s most popular districts on Sunday, leaving bloodied passers-by strewn about the pavement and shattering a sense of calm in the country.
A woman accused of dropping a backpack bomb on a busy pedestrian street in the historic center of Istanbul on Sunday has been detained, along with nearly two dozen other suspects reportedly linked to Kurdish “terrorist groups,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced early on Monday.
The blast on the iconic Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul killed six people and injured 81, according to the latest tally. Five of the injured are in intensive care, including two in a critical condition.
Soylu said that the order for the attack on Istiklal Avenue was given in Kobani, a city in northern Syria, where Turkish forces have carried out operations against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in recent years.
“According to our findings, the PKK terrorist organization is responsible,” he added, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and by extension its Syrian branch the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
“The Turkish interior minister said that the police had a voice recording of a talk among PKK members that said she should be killed before police captures her,” Koseoglu said.
“The minister said the next step for the perpetrators was to escape to Greece before being captured by Turkish police.”
Who is the Bomber?
The suspected bomber has been identified as a Syrian woman. Police said the woman confessed to being trained by PKK-affiliated militants in northern Syria.
Images shown by Turkish media include footage of the police operation, showing the suspect and several other individuals being detained and escorted by armed officers. There were also several photos showing her face.
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Following the explosion, the suspect ran to take a taxi to Istanbul’s Esenyurt district, located “a bit far” from the Taksim area where the blast occurred, Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu said reporting from Istanbul.
According to Istanbul police, 1,200 security cameras were checked and raids were conducted at 21 different locations the woman was identified to have links with before she was arrested at 2:50am.
Police used a dog to search the apartment and found gold, money and ammunition, Istanbul police added.
Turkey Won’t Accept US Condolences
Turkey has identified YPG militias in Syria as the masterminds behind the deadly bombing and will not accept condolences from the US, which has supported them in the past.
“We have received the message, but we will not accept and are rejecting condolences from the US embassy,” Interior Minister Soylu told journalists, as quoted by TASS.
“[Allies] who seem like friends to us, who either hide all terrorists in their own countries, or give life to terrorists in the territories they occupy, in the territories they control, and send them money officially from their own senates,” Soylu added.
Ankara considers the YPG to be part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Turkish-Kurdish militia group that has waged a decades-old guerrilla war against the government. The US has designated the PKK as a terrorist organization.
It helped Syrian Kurdish fighters by providing weapons, training and air support as part of Washington’s military involvement in Syria.
Source: Agencies and Websites