Turkish police set up checkpoints on roads leading out of Diyarbakir yesterday in a major search operation for those behind a bomb explosion that killed 11 people, five of them children.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast late on Tuesday at a bus stop in the largest city in Turkey's southeast region, the focus of a 22-year conflict between the state and rebels fighting for a Kurdish state.
Hospitals were treating 13 people wounded in the explosion, which occurred on a main street next to a park. On Tuesday, authorities put the death toll at seven but the number rose to 11 overnight.
Witnesses said the blast, apparently triggered by a mobile phone, tore a hole half a meter across on the pavement and shattered the windows of nearby houses and offices. Firemen cleaned up bloodstains at the site.
"When I looked out I saw a bloodbath. Everyone wanted help. But there was no sound coming from some of the children whom I saw," said resident Mahmut Coban, who was sitting at home when the blast occurred.
"We heard that terrible bang and then we saw flames rising as high as five meters from the ground," said Hasan Ozcetinkaya, an employee of a gas station across the street.
"I was resting at home when I heard the explosion. I thought it was either an earthquake or I was losing my mind," Mehmet Sanli, a 75-year-old resident of a building next to the park, said. "I went out barefooted and the street was littered with pieces of glass."
Police said they believed the device was set off by mistake and it might have been intended for police headquarters 1.5km away.
Residents were perplexed by the blast, given the separatists' support base is largely in this area.
The blast, the deadliest in a string of bombings across Turkey this year which have killed at least 16 people and wounded about 100 people in recent weeks, occurred at around 9pm in Diyarbakir's impoverished Baglar district, in which tea gardens are a favorite venue to relax in the evenings.
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