ISTANBUL, Turkey – Two bombs exploded minutes apart in a packed Istanbul square Sunday night, killing 16 and injuring more than 150 in the deadliest attack against civilians in Turkey in almost five years.
The city’s governor called it a “terror attack,” but officials did not blame any specific group, and no one immediately claimed responsibility. CNN-Turk television, citing security sources, said police suspect Kurdish rebels because intelligence reports had suggested the rebels were planning a bombing campaign in Turkish cities.
“There is no doubt that this is a terror attack,” Gov. Muammer Guler told reporters.
The first bomb went off in the residential neighborhood of Gungoren in a busy square closed to traffic where people congregate at night, witnesses said. A number of people had rushed over to see what happened and help victims when a second, more powerful blast hit close by about 10 minutes after the first. Many of the casualties were from the second explosion, witnesses said.
“The fact that there was a crowd in the area has increased the number of casualties,” the governor said.
Government officials said 16 people were killed and 154 injured.
Many of the injured waited for medical treatment, their faces and bodies covered with blood. Several people who appeared seriously wounded were wrapped in blankets and carried to ambulances waiting near the site of the blasts.
The second explosion could be heard a mile away, witnesses said. The governor said the bombs were planted in trash cans.
The attack was the country’s worst since Nov. 20, 2003, when al-Qaida linked suicide bombings struck the British consulate and a British bank, killing at least 30 people. Five days earlier, suicide truck bombs exploded at two Istanbul synagogues, killing 27.