ISTANBUL – Turkey’s government was blamed Kurdish militants Monday’s blast in Istanbul’s main shopping district killed six people. Police said they had arrested 22 suspects including the man who planted the bomb.
Suleyman Soylu, Interior Minister, stated that the order to attack Istiklal Avenue came from Kobani in northern Syria. This is a city where Turkish forces have been conducting operations against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militias in recent years.
Soylu said that the bomber had been through Afrin, a region in northern Syria.
Six Turkish citizens, two each from three families, were among the victims of the attack. None of the attackers has claimed responsibility.
Television news reports featured images of a woman leaving a package under a raised flowerbed on the historic Istiklal Avenue. This is a popular spot for tourists and shoppers with a tramline running its length.
Following Sunday’s attack on Turkey, 50 people were discharged from the hospital. This raised fears that Turkey might be subject to more bombings and attacks similar to those it suffered from mid-2015 through 2017.
In the past, militants from Kurdish and Islamist parties have targeted Istanbul. In December 2016, a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an offshoot, attacked Istanbul’s soccer stadium and killed 38 people. It also injured 155.
Two of the five injured were taken to intensive care on Sunday by the Istanbul Governor’s Office. They were among the 31 injured still in hospital.
ECHOES OF PAST ATACKS
After the explosion on Sunday, hundreds fled the area as police and ambulances raced in. The Beyoglu district, Turkey’s largest, was packed as usual on the weekend.
Reuters obtained video footage that showed the moment of the explosion at 4.13 p.m. (11313 GMT) and it hurled debris into the sky, leaving many people on the ground while others stumbled away.
Ankara asserts that the YPG, which Washington supports in the conflict over Syria, is a wing the PKK.
Turkey launched three incursions into northern Syria against the YPG, including one in 2019 that saw it seize hundreds of kilometres land. President Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan has stated that Turkey will target the YPG again in 2018.
Since 1984, the PKK has been leading an insurgency against Turkey’s state. More than 40,000 people were killed in clashes. Turkey, the European Union, and the United States consider it a terrorist organization.
Many countries, including the United States, Egypt, Ukraine, Greece, and the European Union, expressed their condolences and condemned the attack.
Turkish authorities linked Washington’s support for the YPG to the attack by claiming that it was supported by Washington.
Fahrettin Alun, the communications director for the presidency, stated that such attacks had been made. “are direct and indirect results of the support some countries give to terrorist organisations.”
Soylu compared the U.S. condolences with “the murderer arriving as one of the first at the scene of the crime.”