Car bomb attack targeting police kills 11 people in Istanbul
ISTANBUL (AP) — A rush-hour car bomb attack targeting a bus carrying riot police killed 11 people and wounded 36 others Tuesday, Istanbul's governor said.
Speaking at the scene of the blast in the district of Beyazit, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the dead included seven police officers and four civilians. At least three of the wounded were in serious condition.
The explosion was caused by a bomb placed inside a car and was detonated as the police vehicle was passing by, Sahin said.
The police bus was overturned from the force of the blast which also damaged nearby buildings, including a closed hotel whose entrance appeared gutted and windows were blown out. The blast also shattered windows at a famous 16th-century Ottoman mosque, Sehzadebasi, and wrecked several cars in the area.
The explosion occurred on a busy intersection near an Istanbul University building, forcing officials to cancel exams.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited some of the wounded at Istanbul's Haseki hospital, where two people were undergoing surgery, and said Turkey would press ahead with its fight against terrorism.
"These (attacks) are being carried out against people whose duty it is to ensure the security of our people. These cannot be pardoned or forgiven. We shall continue our fight against terrorists tirelessly until the end," he told reporters outside the hospital.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the attack, which occurred on the second day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
"They are cold-heartedly exploding bombs on a Ramadan day," Cavusoglu said in a television interview.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was meeting with the country's interior minister to discuss the attack.
There was no immediate responsibility claim and Sahin would not comment on who may be behind the attack. Authorities imposed a news blackout preventing media from reporting details of the investigation.
Tuesday's attack was the fourth major bombing in Istanbul this year. Two of them targeting tourists and two hitting security forces. The spike in violence has led to a sharp dip in tourism, a mainstay of the economy.
The rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, have been targeting police and military personnel with bombs since July, when a fragile peace process between the rebels and the government collapsed.
The Islamic State group has also been blamed for a series of deadly bombings in Turkey, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition against IS.
An estimated 500 Turkish security personnel have been killed in attacks or in conflict with the Kurdish rebels, according to the military, which claims to have killed 4,900 PKK militants in operations in Turkey and northern Iraq, where the group has a major bastion. Turkish warplanes regularly raid PKK bases in northern Iraq.
Limited access to conflict areas in the southeast has made it difficult to verify casualty figures.
The PKK is fighting for autonomy for Turkey's Kurds in the southeast of the country. The decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state in a conflict that has claimed 40,000 lives. The group is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its allies.
Last month, eight people were wounded in Istanbul after car bomb similarly targeted a military vehicle near the entrance of a garrison as the evening rush hour began.
Suzan Fraser in Ankara and Dominique Soguel in Istanbul contributed.
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