Dozens killed as suicide bombers target Istanbul synagogues
Suicide car bombers attacked two synagogues in Istanbul today, killing at least 23 people and injuring about 100 more.
A militant Turkish Islamic group claimed responsibility for the blasts, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.
One explosion went off outside the Neve Shalom synagogue, the city's largest. The other severely damaged the Beth Israel synagogue in the affluent district of Sisli, three miles away, where members of the city's tiny Jewish and Armenian, Greek communities live.
Twisted metals, shattered windows and debris from partly collapsed synagogues and nearby buildings filled the streets. The scent of smoke and burned bodies filled the air.
Television footage showed medical teams carrying away several people, some with bloodied or charred faces. Private NTV television showed the twisted wreckage of a car and a huge crater in front of the Neve Shalom.
NTV television said a red car was seen parked just before the explosion in front of the Neve Shalom. Police suspected that the car may have been laden with explosives, NTV said.
Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said 23 people were killed, while the semiofficial Anatolia news agency said more than 80 were wounded.
"It was like a war zone," said Sadettin Gul, an eyewitness.
In a telephone call to the Anatolia news agency, a person claiming to be from the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front said the militant group was responsible for the attacks, and promised more.
The caller said "the attacks would continue in the future and the reason was that to prevent the oppression against Muslims," Anatolia said.
Police have accused the group, also known as IBDA-C, for a bombing attack which injured 10 people in downtown Istanbul on Dec. 31, 2000. However, no one has claimed responsibility for that attack.
The Neve Shalom synagogue was the sight of an attack by gunmen in 1986. The gunmen, believed to be Palestinians, killed 22 worshippers and wounded six during a Sabbath service.
In 1992, the Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah carried out a bomb attack against the same synagogue but no one was injured.
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