A devastating explosion struck terror into the heart of Istanbul this morning, in the Sultanahmet district, resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people, leaving 15 injured.
According to Turkish news sources, the victims are mainly tourists, including French and German visitors. Among them are claimed to be one Norwegian and one Peruvian. Full details are yet to be clarified, however.
One woman who works at a nearby antiques store claimed: “The explosion was very loud. We shook a lot. We ran out and saw body parts.”
A temporary ban on media coverage of the explosion has been put into place. However, close up footage of the scenery has been captured, which can be viewed below:
It is not yet clear who caused the attacks. No immediate claim of responsibility has been made. However, State-run Turkish broadcaster TRT says it is “likely” that a suicide bomber was behind the blast attack. One eyewitness, Murat Manaz has backed this up: “It was a suicide bomb. I went there and saw it and came back to the hotel. There was chaos. Everybody was running somewhere.”
Of course, Turkey has most certainly been a hotspot for such activity this year, being struck by an explosion last October, which killed nearly 100; while last July, more than 30 perished in an attack on the border of Syria.
One might initially suspect involvement from Kurdish movements, such as the far-left PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party), given Turkey’s past skirmishes with such factions. The authoritarian regime led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has placed clamping down on this threat high on his agenda – undoubted leading to a flare in tensions.
More significantly, Turkey is bordering two nations (Iraq and Syria) which are both plagued by increasingly rampant civil wars, and the looming menace of Islamic State – another clear suspect.
Not only has Erdogan spend much energy oppressing the Kurdish people, suspicion has been aroused that he has done so by collaborating with Islamic State militants.
If this is the case, then one must ask, surely this would come back to haunt our NATO ally, given the growing presence of Islamists in neighbouring regions?
Perhaps this is the case. While no one can say with certainty who was responsible for the explosion, it is true that if Turkey has supported such militants, then it could be reaping what it sows.