Turkey bombing: 'English-speaking' female suicide bomber attacks Istanbul police station – killing one and wounding another

The attack occurred in the Sultanahmet district, a popular tourist destination

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The Independent Online

An 'English-speaking' female suicide bomber blew herself up in a police station in Istanbul today, killing one officer and injuring another.

The woman, whose identity has not been released, reportedly walked into the building in the historic Sultanahmet district claiming she had lost her purse.

Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin told Turkish TV that the woman spoke English with a "thick accent" but her nationality remains unknown.

The explosion was across a square from some of the Turkish city’s most popular tourist attractions, including the Aya Sofya museum and Blue Mosque, and near the Basilica Cistern.

“We were shaken by a very loud blast. There were customers and everyone dropped to the floor,” Kaan Koc, who works opposite the station, told CNN Turk.

“A police officer came out of the station and fired into the air saying 'disperse, there is a suicide bomber, go inside'. Then we heard gun fire but we weren't sure who was shooting.”

Windows were shattered and shutters hung unhinged from the three-storey tourist police station as officers cordoned off the road in the aftermath.

Turkey-suicide-bombing.jpgThere was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, which came less than a week after far-left group DHKP-C (Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front) said it was behind a grenade attack on police near the Prime Minister's office in Istanbul.

Turkey also faces possible threat from Isis militants moving across the border from Syria and Iraq and from Kurdish rebels, despite a truce after an insurrection lasting 30 years.

The woman entered the police station saying in English that she had lost her purse and then detonated the explosives, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said. Her nationality and identity were unknown.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said one of the officers had died and another was injured.

The DHKP-C had warned of further strikes after last Thursday's attack, when a man carrying an automatic weapon was detained near the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace.

The group was also behind a suicide bombing at the American Embassy last year and numerous attacks on police stations. Most were in outlying Istanbul suburbs and linked with apparent vendettas against particular police officers.

A spokesperson for DHKP-C said Thursday's attack was over the killing of 15-year-old boy who died last March after nine months in a coma from a head wound sustained during an anti-government protest. It blamed President Tayyip Erdogan for the death.

Additional reporting by Reuters