Rush-hour car bomb attack targeting police kills 11 in Istanbul

The scene of the  blast which killed seven officers in the Beyazit district, Istanbul. Picture: Getty Images
The scene of the blast which killed seven officers in the Beyazit district, Istanbul. Picture: Getty Images
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A rush-hour car bomb targeted a bus carrying riot police in Istanbul, killing 11 people and wounding 36 others.

Speaking at the scene of the blast in the Beyazit district, 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 bomb was placed inside a car and detonated as the police vehicle passed by, Sahin said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and Sahin would not comment on who may be behind the attack.

Yesterday’s attack was the fourth major bombing in Istanbul this year, with two of them targeting tourists and the others hitting security forces. The spike in violence has led to a sharp dip in tourism, a mainstay of the Turkish economy.

The police bus was flipped over by 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, wrecked several cars and forced the cancellation of some exams at nearby Istanbul University.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited some of the wounded at Istanbul’s Haseki hospital, where two people were undergoing surgery.

“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 fearlessly and tirelessly until the end,” he told reporters outside the hospital.

Several groups have issues with the Turkish government. Rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, have targeted police and military personnel 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.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim promised a full investigation.

“Our security and forensic units will carefully and diligently trace evidence and shed light on those who perpetrated this vile attack,” he said.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the attack, which occurred on the second day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.