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Istanbul blast suspect arrested, govt points at Kurdish militants

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadNov 14, 2022 | 10:27

Istanbul blast suspect arrested, govt points at Kurdish militants

The aftermath of the blast in Istanbul's Istiklal street. Photo: Getty Images

Turkey was left shocked and in grief after a blast tore through a popular shopping center in Istanbul on Sunday, November 13. The explosion took place at Istiklal Avenue in the heart of Istanbul city and killed at least six people and injured 50 others. 

  • Among the dead were a father and a young daughter. 
  • A senior Pakistan minister expressed his condolences over the blast in Turkey while sharing a video of the incident. 

Suspect arrested: 22 people have been arrested over the blast including the bomber who was seen sitting on a bench near the blast site.

  • One of the suspects, a woman, was seen sitting on a bench near the blast site for nearly 40 minutes and left right before the explosion took place. 
  • The suspect is accused of planting the bomb. 
The person who left the bomb is detained and initial reports show PKK/YPG terror group is behind the bomb attack in Türkiye's Istanbul busy pedestrian avenue of Istiklal.
- Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu
  • Soylu also blamed the terrorist organisation PKK or the Kurdish Workers' Party for the attack. 
  • So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. 
  • Earlier it was speculated that the attack was a suicide bombing. 

What is PKK or the Kurdish Workers' Party? The PKK or the Kurdish Workers' Party is a designated terrorist organisation in the US, EU and Turkey.

  • The organisation has been active in the insurgency since the 1980s, demanding Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey. 
  • The PKK and the Turkish military have been at loggerheads for several years, and a ceasefire broke down in 2015, resulting in a series of violent attacks. 
  • The organisation wants greater recognition of Kurdish cultural and political rights, with the primary objective of establishing an independent Kurdish state.

Smells like terrorism: While there is no clarity on whether the attack was made by a terrorist group, President Erdogan said that prima facie it seems like an act of terror. 

It would be wrong to say this is undoubtedly a terrorist attack but the initial developments and initial intelligence from my governor is that it smells like terrorism.
- Turkey's President Erdogan

History of attacks: Istiklal street is a popular spot for shoppers and tourists alike. Such attacks were not reported recently. However, Istiklal street was the target of a campaign of terror attacks between 2015-16.

  • In 2016, five people were killed and 36 injured after a suicide bomber triggered an explosion on Istiklal street. 
  • Turkey's Istanbul was also the target of several terrorist attacks claimed by both PKK and Islamic State in separate incidents between 2015-16.
  • One of the deadliest attacks was caused by twin bombings outside the Istanbul soccer stadium in December 2016 which killed 38 people. 

Videos of the blast on Sunday showed the panic on the crowded street as the explosion went off. 

When I heard the explosion, I was petrified, people froze, looking at each other. Then people started running away. What else can you do...
- Mehmet Akus, a restaurant worker on Istiklal told Reuters
  • Police have cordoned off the blast site and only the lower part of the avenue is currently accessible. 
  • Soon after the blast, helicopters were heard flying around blaring sirens.  
  • Several world leaders including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack and sent their condolences to the families of the victims. 

Last updated: November 14, 2022 | 13:38
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