In an act that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan described as “smelling like terrorism,” an explosion that rocked a busy pedestrian area in the heart of Istanbul on Sunday left six people dead and 81 others injured.
On the congested Istiklal Avenue, which police had rapidly closed off, ambulances sped to the site. The neighborhood in the largest city in Turkey, Beyoglu, had been busy during the weekend with shoppers, tourists, and families as usual.
Some four hours after the blast, Vice President Fuat Oktay and Interior Minster Suleyman Soylu visited the site of the explosion.
Oktay said the number of injured was 81 and re-iterated six people died in the explosion.
“We will resolve this matter very soon,” Oktay told reporters.
The efforts to subdue Turkey and the Turkish people through terrorism, Erdogan declared at a news conference in Istanbul, “will fail today just as they did yesterday and as they will tomorrow.”
He added that preliminary information indicated “a lady played a part” in the incident and reassured the public that “the perpetrators will be punished as they deserve.”
It would be incorrect to state that this was a terrorist assault without a doubt, but according to early indications and my governor’s initial intelligence, it “smells like terrorism,” he continued.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blast. 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.