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Deadly blast in Turkey’s Istanbul leaves 6 dead and over 80 injured, blacklisted terror group blamed for the attack: What we know so far

At least six people have been killed and 81 wounded in the explosion at a busy marketplace in Istanbul, Turkey.

Hours after a deadly bomb blast tore through a crowded shopping street in Turkey’s Istanbul, killing six and wounding dozens on Sunday, November 13, the state-run Anadolu agency confirmed that one suspect has been arrested. Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu on Monday said the person is believed to have planted the bomb.

The minister attributed responsibility for the Sunday explosion on the Istiklal Avenue to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), saying, “our assessment is that the order for the deadly terror attack came from Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria” where he said the group’s Syrian headquarters are located.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK is a Kurdish militant political organization and armed guerrilla movement. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, the EU and some other countries. Since the 1980s, the PKK has maintained a deadly insurgency in southeast Turkey for Kurdish self-rule. Regularly the target of Turkish military operations, the PKK is also at the centre of a dispute between Sweden and Turkey. Turkey has been preventing Stockholm’s membership in NATO since May, blaming Stockholm for showing favouritism to the PKK.

“We will retaliate against those who are responsible for this heinous terror attack,” he said, adding that the death toll has risen from six to eight and that 81 people had been wounded, with two of them in “critical condition”.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast yet.

Video of the bomb blast in Istanbul surfaces

The explosion occurred on a busy shopping street near Taksim Square on Sunday at about 16:20 local time (13:20 GMT). At least six people have been killed and 81 wounded in the explosion.

Videos that were shared online shortly after the explosion showed hundreds of people fleeing the street as ambulances and police rushed to the scene. The place was crowded with tourists, families and shoppers as usual when the deadly blast took place.

As seen in the videos and images that surfaced online, the explosion was accompanied by flames which immediately triggered panic, with people running in all directions. A massive black crater and many bodies laying on the ground were also visible in the images.

Authorities later revealed that among the dead were a Turkish government ministry worker and his daughter. According to news agency Reuters, five persons among those injured were shifted to intensive care in a hospital, with two of them being in a critical condition.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the perpetrators would be punished.

Speaking at a news conference in Istanbul, he condemned what he called the “vile attack” and said “the smell of terror” was in the air.

“It might be wrong if we say for sure that this is terror but according to first signs… there is a smell of terror there,” Erdogan said. “The attempt to take over Turkey and the Turkish nation through terrorism will not reach its goal today or tomorrow,” Erdogan added. 

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, meanwhile, told Turkish media a woman had sat on a bench in the area for more than 40 minutes, leaving just minutes before the blast took place.

India expresses condolences

Following the blast on Sunday, India expressed its condolences for the unfortunate loss of lives. Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, expressed India’s heartfelt condolences and wished those affected a speedy recovery.

He tweeted, “India conveys its deepest condolences to the Government and people of Türkiye on the tragic loss of lives in the blast that took place in Istanbul today. Our sympathies are also with those who sustained injuries. We wish them a speedy recovery.” 

Istiklal Street had previously been hit during a campaign of attacks in 2015-2016 that targeted Istanbul. Those attacks, claimed by the Islamic State organisation, had killed approximately 500 people and injured over 2,000 more.

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