Three foreigners among five killed in Istanbul suicide bombing

Published: Sunday 20th March 2016 by The News Editor

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A suicide attack on Istanbul’s main pedestrian shopping street has killed five people including two Israeli-Americans and one Iranian citizen, in the sixth suicide bombing in Turkey in the past year.

Prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu issued a statement saying there were several foreigners among the victims.

“Turkey has always said that terrorism has no religion, no language and no race and that terrorism has to be condemned no matter who the perpetrators are,” he said. “This sad event has shown once again how right our position is.”

Suspicion fell on the Islamic State group and on Kurdish militants who have claimed two recent attacks in the capital, Ankara. DNA samples were taken from family members of two possible IS militants who could be the bomber, the private Turkish Dogan news agency reported.

The explosion ripped through Istiklal Street, a popular destination for tourists and locals in a central neighbourhood that is home to cafes, restaurants, foreign consulates and a government office.

Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said there were five fatalities and that investigations were under way. An interior ministry official said the death toll included the suicide bomber.

Police swiftly sealed off the area as ambulances and a forensic team rushed to the scene. Normally packed cafes were either closed or virtually empty, with business owners making frantic calls to loved ones to assure them of their safety. Rattled tourists wondered where to go.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that at least two of the victims were Israelis. An Israeli diplomat in Istanbul said the two also held American citizenship.

“We can sadly confirm that two Israeli civilians were killed and we might have a third fatality,” he said.

Israel is working with other intelligence agencies to determine whether the attack was directed at Israelis specifically. Two planes were sent to Istanbul to evacuate others wounded in the blast.

The majority of the Israelis caught up in the attack were on a culinary tour of the city, officials said. The group had just eaten breakfast nearby when the blast ripped through the street. Israeli media named one of the victims as 60-year-old Simha Damari, a mother of four, and said her husband was also wounded in the attack.

Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, confirmed that two American citizens were among those killed in the Istanbul attack. Their identities were not released.

A group of Iranian tourists were also among the victims. Alireza Razmkhah, 45, was killed and his wife Azan and baby Diana were wounded, according to IRNA, the official Iranian news agency. An elderly woman was also wounded in the attack, but was in stable condition, the agency reported.

The attack coincided with a visit to Turkey by Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. He condemned the “inhumane” act and offered his condolences to Turkey.

Turkey’s health minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said the people wounded in the attack included six Israelis, two Irish citizens and one person each from Iceland, Germany, Dubai and Iran. Istanbul’s governor said 24 of the wounded were foreigners.

Turkey was already on edge after two recent suicide car bomb attacks in the capital Ankara, which were claimed by a Kurdish militant group that is an off-shoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The most recent bombing attack, on March 13, targeted bus stops on Ankara’s busiest street, killing 37 people including two bombers.

Published: Sunday 20th March 2016 by The News Editor

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