Turkey arrests 22 suspects, blames Kurdish militants for Istanbul blast

Photo: Reuters

Turkey’s government on Monday said Kurdish militants had planted the deadly bomb in the busy shopping area in Istanbul on Sunday afternoon that left six people dead and dozens wounded.

According to Turkish officials, 22 suspects have been detained including one person suspected of having planted the explosive device.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the order for the attack on Istiklal Avenue was given in Kobani, a city in northern Syria, where Turkish forces have carried out operations against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in recent years.

He added that the bomber had also traveled through Afrin in northern Syria, which is a Kurdish Canton.

Six Turkish citizens, two members each of three families, were killed in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility.

Television news reports showed images of a person, who appeared to be a woman, leaving a package below a raised flower bed on the historic Istiklal Avenue, a popular spot for shoppers and tourists with a tramline running its length, Reuters reported.

The device was detonated at 4.13pm on Sunday afternoon. Fifty people have already been discharged from hospital but a number of victims are still in intensive care – with two reported to be in a critical condition.

Sunday’s attack has sparked concerns that Turkey could be hit with more bombings and attacks, similar to those that gripped the country between mid-2015 and 2017.