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Istanbul blast: '22 arrested' as Turkey blames Kurdish separatists for 'terror attack'

Istanbul blast: '22 arrested' as Turkey blames Kurdish separatists for 'terror attack'
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Monday, 14 November, 2022, 11:24

Turkish authorities have arrested more than 20 suspects including one person who is believed to have planted a bomb that exploded on a bustling pedestrian avenue in Istanbul, Turkey’s interior minister said on Monday.

Suleyman Soylu said that initial findings indicated Kurdish militants were responsible for the deadly blast.

"The person who planted the bomb has been arrested," Soylu said in an overnight statement carried by the official Anadolu agency and local TV stations. "According to our findings, the PKK terrorist organisation is responsible."
Another 21 suspects have also been arrested, he added.

Authorities said six people were killed and 81 were wounded in Sunday’s explosion on Istiklal Avenue, a popular thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants that leads to the iconic Taksim Square.

The minister also accused Kurdish forces controlling most of northeastern Syria, which Ankara considers terrorists, of being behind the attack.

"We believe that the order for the attack was given from Kobane," he added.

Kobane, a city that has remained famous for the 2015 battle that enabled Kurdish forces to repel the Islamic State group, is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the People's Protection Units (YPG), allied to the PKK, are a major component.

Blast hits busy shopping area
Hours after the explosion on Sunday afternoon, Vice President Fuat Oktay visited the site to give the latest death and injury toll, and promised to resolve the matter "very soon".

The area, in the Beyoglu district of Turkey's largest city, had been crowded as usual at the weekend with shoppers, tourists and families.

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed the moment the explosion occurred at 4.13 p.m. (14.13 CET), sending debris into the air and leaving several people lying on the ground, while others stumbled away.

Hundreds of people fled the historic Istiklal Avenue after the blast, as ambulances and police raced in.

Authorities later said a government ministry worker and his daughter were among the dead. Five people were in intensive care in hospital, two of them in a critical condition.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blast.