Double bombing kills 17 in Istanbul, Turkish prime minister calls for unity

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Double bombing kills 17 in Istanbul, Turkish prime minister calls for unity
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Temmuz 28, 2008 09:41

Two bombs exploded minutes apart in a packed Istanbul square Sunday night, killing 17, five of them children, and injuring more than 150 in the deadliest attack against civilians in Turkey in almost five years. Police have been focusing their investigations on the outlawed PKK which had used similar explosives in the past. The Turkish PM on Monday visited the site of the attack and called for unity. (UPDATED)

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Thousands of people have gathered at Fetih Mosque in Istanbul for the funeral of 10 of the 17 victims of Sunday’s twin bomb attack. The bodies of the other seven victims were sent to their home towns to be buried.       

The funeral was also attended by Prime Minister Tayipp Erdogan, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek, Istanbul Govenor Muammer Guler and Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas, as well as a number of cabinet members.

In the explosions that took place  in the Gungoren neighborhood on the city's European side, 153 people were injured, with seven in a critical condition.  

The first bomb created a small blast in a rubbish container. A second, much stronger explosion took place several minutes later a few meters away while a crowd gathered at the site of the first blast.

Witnesses confirmed the second blast was the more powerful, leading investigators to suspect that it was meant to kill as many people as possible.

"The first explosion occurred at about 9:45 p.m. (GMT 1845). Then, we heard a second and stronger blast some 8-10 minutes later. Many people were injured in the second blast after they rushed to the area to help the casualties of the first explosion. The avenue where the explosions occurred was closed to the traffic and there were many people walking around," Ramazan Ekici, one of the witnesses, told the Anatolian Agency.

Turkish police have detained three in connection with the explosions. A crisis center was set up at the office of the Istanbul governor.


Erdogan cancelled the scheduled meeting of the Council of Ministers in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Monday and flew to Istanbul where he visited the site of last night's bomb attack.

No politics should be conducted over blood and the whole of society should be unified and integrated during such days, Erdogan said to members of the press after inspecting the scene of the incident, adding that success against terrorism can be achieved by cutting support given to these groups.

Erdogan also urged the media to be more sensitive about broadcasting and publishing news relating to the incident since it directly served the aim of these organizations.

"Our security forces and soldiers go on countering terrorism, and will continue to do so," Erdogan added.

Erdogan said that the Turkish government, particularly the Higher Board of Counter Terrorism, were setting strategies against terrorism, and Turkey was trying to gain the support of the international community.

Opposition leader Deniz Baykal, who also visited the site of the explosion, said Monday Turkey should give a very determined and democratic reaction to all the elements that are behind this incident.

"Millions of our people should openly and loudly condemn those behind this," he added.


Istanbul's governor said Monday the bomb blasts appear to have links to the outlawed PKK, adding police is still investigating the explosions.

"There appears to be a link with the separatist organization. We are working on that. We hope to get a result at the first opportunity," Guler told reporters.

Newspapers also pointed an accusing finger at the outlawed PKK, which has carried out bomb attacks in the past.

The attack appears to be retaliation for an intensified army crackdown against the PKK, inside Turkey and in northern Iraq, where the rebels take refuge, media reports said. 


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