Turkey is once again reeling from a terror attack with the country put on hight alert as security forces launched a nationwide investigation into Tuesday’s bomb blast.
At least 10 people died most of them German tourists when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the heart of Istanbul.
Witnesses described scenes of carnage:
“Suddenly there was a huge explosion….it was like an earthquake, the ground shook (:::) We saw dead bodies and the injured lying on the ground. Within a few minutes police came and cordoned off the area. Ambulances arrived. There was an atmosphere of panic.”
The dead and injured were quickly ferried to hospital. At least 15 people were wounded many of them were also German.
One Norwegian tourist, Jostein Nielsen who was caught in the blast applauded medical, relieved to be told he will walk again.
The suicide bomber had targeted tourists in Sultanahmet square, near the Blue Mosque, one of Istanbul’s most visited sites. Police said that fortunately it had not been densely packed at the time.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, is blaming ISIL saying the bomber was Syrian but was not on a watch list of suspected militants.
“I call on all humanity. We need to stand in global solidarity. We need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the face of the Istanbul and Ankara attacks like we did after Paris.”
Prime Minister Davutoglu had earlier spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to offer condolences. The German leader similarly vowed no respite in the fight against international terrorism
“Terrorists are enemies of all free people. Yes, they are enemies of all humanity, whether they are in Syria, Turkey, France or Germany. It is exactly this freedom and our determination to fight these terrorists together with our international partners that will prevail,” said Merkel speaking in Germany.
Who is to blame?
Although no group has claimed responsibility, two bombings last year, one in the town of Suruc near the Syrian border and one in the capital Ankara, the latter killing more than 100 people, have been blamed on ISIL by the Turkish government. Ankara has taken an active role against the militants in Syria, carrying out air strikes and allowing US warplanes to use one of its bases for missions.
However along with Islamist militants, leftist and Kurdish militants, who are battling Ankara in southeast Turkey, have all carried out attacks in the past.
Violence has escalated in the mainly Kurdish southeast since a a two-year ceasefire collapsed in July between the state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has been fighting for three decades for Kurdish autonomy. The PKK has however generally avoided attacking civilian targets in urban centres outside the southeast in recent years.
Turkey also sees a threat from the PYD and the YPG, Kurdish groups in Syria which are fighting ISIL with US backing, but which Ankara says have cloase links with the PKK.
We mourn for all victims of the attack in Istanbul. Here in Washington, our flags are at half-mast in remembrance. pic.twitter.com/HS3sl5sqSj— German Embassy (@GermanyinUSA) January 12, 2016