Wed, Jan 13, 2016 - Page 1 News List

‘Terror attack’ kills 10 in Istanbul’s tourist heart

‘REALLY SCARY’:Turkey has been on high alert since a series of attacks blamed on Islamic State. Reports said the blast was possibly done by a suicide bomber

AFP, ISTANBUL, Turkey

Ten people were killed and 15 wounded in a suspected terror attack in Istanbul’s tourist hub yesterday, officials said, with the country on edge after a wave of deadly militant bombings.

The powerful blast rocked the Sultanahmet neighborhood, which is home to Istanbul’s biggest concentration of monuments and is visited by tens of thousands of tourists every day.

“Terrorist links are suspected,” a Turkish official said, asking not to be named.

Ambulances and police were despatched to Sultanahmet, which is home to world-famous monuments including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, while police helicopters hovered above.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu convened an emergency security meeting of key ministers and officials, including Turkish Minister of the Interior Efkan Ala and Turkish National Intelligence Organization Director Hakan Fidan.

Turkey has been on high alert after a series of attacks blamed on the Islamic State (IS) militant group, including a double suicide bombing in the capital, Ankara, in October last year that left 103 people dead.

The Istanbul Governor’s Office said in a statement quoted by the Dogan news agency that 10 people were killed and 15 wounded in yesterday’s blast.

“Investigations into the cause of the explosion, the type of explosion and perpetrator or perpetrators are under way,” the governor’s office said.

Images published by Dogan showed several apparently dead bodies lying on the ground.

The identities of those killed and hurt were not immediately clear, although unconfirmed reports said that the injured included two Germans and one Norwegian.

Germany warned its nationals to avoid tourist sites in Istanbul, a city of about 14 million people that has been hit several times in the past by deadly attacks.

Media reports said the authorities were studying the possibility yesterday’s blast was caused by a suicide bomber, but there was no official confirmation.

The explosion was powerful enough to be heard in adjacent neighborhoods, witnesses said.

Police cordoned off the area to shocked passersby and tourists and the nearby tram service had been halted.

“The explosion was so loud, the ground shook. There was a very heavy smell that burned my nose,” a German tourist named Caroline said. “I started running away with my daughter. We went into a nearby building and stayed there for half an hour. It was really scary.”

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