30 cops, eight others, Bomb attacks in Istanbul

 30 cops, eight others, Bomb attacks in Istanbul

AFP — Published about 3 hours ago Istanbul: People carry the flag-draped coffins of police officers on Sunday.—Reuters ISTANBUL:  A defiant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday vowed to fight terror “to the end” as Turkey mourned 38 people killed in twin bombings that authorities said were likely the work of Kurdish militants.The blasts, which took place late on Saturday and partially reported on Sunday, saw a car bomb exploding outside the home stadium of football giants Besiktas and less than a minute later, a suicide attacker blew himself up by a group of police at a nearby park.Most of the dead were police officers, who accounted for 30 of the overall toll. The carnage prompted a sharp response from Erdogan, who defiantly vowed Ankara would “fight the scourge of terrorism right to the end”. “They should know that they will not get away with it … They will pay a heavier price.” Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, officials said initial findings suggested it was the work of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, that has waged a bloody campaign against the Turkish state since 1984.

In a ceremony for five of the victims at the city’s police headquarters, officers carried in the coffins draped with flags as Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim looked on before speaking with the bereaved families.

“Sooner or later we will have our revenge,” Interior Minister Suleman Soylu told the mourners. “The arm of the law is long”.

People also gathered outside the stadium to lay flowers, many holding Turkish flags and shouting “Down with the PKK!” and “Our homeland is indivisible!” Thousands later joined a protest march around the stadium, with some ruling party fans kicking the buses of opposition CHP supporters, prompting police to disperse the crowds.

Soylu said 30 police, seven civilians and one person yet to be identified had died in the blasts which had also wounded another 155 people. “The findings point to the PKK,” he said. Thirteen people have been detained over the blasts.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the attack had targeted police.

“Experts say at least 300-400 kilogrammes of explosives had been used.

There was a pit where the car detonated,” he said on CNN Turk television.

Forensic experts were on Sunday collecting evidence at both the stadium and the park, a correspondent said, while municipal workers could be seen clearing up the area and replacing road signs damaged in the stadium blast.

Footage broadcast shortly after the attack showed the wrecked car outside the stadium engulfed in flames with emergency services swarming around the scene.

Other footage showed wrecked police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast shattered the windows of nearby homes.

“I heard two explosions in less than one minute, followed by the sound of gunshots,” one witness said.

Besiktas is one of Istanbul’s most popular football clubs, and its fans are known for their anti-establishment views.

They famously played a big role in the 2013 protests against Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time.

In an earlier statement, Erdogan said that the name of the group behind the attack did not matter.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2016


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