Turkiye: 6 dead, 53 injured in explosion on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue

At least six people were killed and 53 others injured when an explosion hit Istanbul’s popular pedestrian Istiklal Avenue on Sunday. The casualties were confirmed by official sources.

“The relevant units of our state are working to find the perpetrators behind this heinous attack,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a press conference before his departure for Indonesia to attend the G-20 summit.

First, the Turkish President said the explosion might be terror-related, but that it is not certain at this point.

But he after that said: “Initial observations show a woman played a role in the explosion,” he said and stated that “based on initial information from the governor, the explosion could be suspected act of terrorism.”

Ambulances raced to the scene on the packed Istiklal Avenue, which police had quickly cordoned off. The area, in the Beyoglu district of Turkiye’s largest city, had been crowded as usual at the weekend with shoppers, tourists and families.

The Turkish president also vowed that those who waged terrorism against the Turkish nation would fail.

Images shared on social media at the time of the explosion indicated it could be heard from far away and that there were also flames.

Footage showed ambulances, fire trucks and police at the scene, and the area has been evacuated.

The cause of the explosion is still unknown.

In an earlier confirmation, on social media, Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerli Kaya said: “According to initial reports, in the explosion that took place on Istiklal Avenue, 4 people lost their lives and 38 people were injured. Our wounded are being treated. We wish God’s mercy on those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to the injured. Developments will be shared with the public.”

In another post right after the attack, he wrote: “Today, at around 16.20, an explosion occurred in Taksim Istiklal Street in our Beyoglu district. Our police, health, fire and (Disaster and Emergency Management Authority) AFAD teams were sent to the scene. There are casualties and injuries. Developments will be shared with the public.”

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blast. But Istanbul and other Turkish cities have been targeted in the past by Kurdish separatists, Islamist militants and other groups, including in a series of attacks in 2015 and 2016.