Istanbul explosion: Suicide bomber had links to Isis, says Turkish interior minister

Authorities say Mehmet Ozturk was from the southern Gaziantep province near the border with Syria

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 20 March 2016 22:50
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Turkey: At least 4 killed in bomb attack in central Istanbul

Turkey has identified the suicide bomber who killed four foreign tourists in Istanbul and says he had links to Isis.

Interior minister Efkan Ala said the bomber was Turkish citizen Mehmet Ozturk who was born in 1992 in Gaziantep province on the border with Syria.

He said Ozturk was not any list of wanted suspects but five other people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

People take shelter inside a shop after an explosion on the pedestrian Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on March 19, 2016.

Ozturk struck in a busy shopping area popular with tourists in İstiklal Avenue, also known as Istiklal Street, in Istanbul on Saturday.

Among the dead were two American-Israelis, another Israeli and an Iranian.

People jump a police line to flee the scene of an explosion on the pedestrian Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on March 19, 2016.

Health officials said 36 people were also injured in the attack - including 12 foreign nationals.

Several Israeli, German, Iranian, Icelandic, Emirati and Irish citizens were among the injured.

Turkey’s Dogan news agency reported that two children were hurt in the blast.

Mr Ala said: "The identity of the terrorist who carried out this reprehensible attack has been determined.

"The findings obtained show that the terrorist is linked to the Daesh terror organization (Isis)".

CCTV footage of the explosion showed shoppers milling around on the street when the bomb was detonated next to group of people.

The bomb killed four and injured at least 36, including tourists

Skin, the lead singer of British band Skunk Anasie, said she was in a hotel overlooking the street at the time of the blast and described the building "shaking like paper".

Istanbul remained tense a day after the bombing, with Turkish authorities postponing a high-profile soccer match between two major teams, citing an unspecified threat.

The Istanbul governor's office said the derby was canceled following "the assessment of serious intelligence".

Police inspect the site after an explosion in Istiklal Street in Istanbul, Turkey, 19 March 2016.

Turkey has endured six suicide bombing attacks in less than a year with a major attack on Ankara last Sunday - which killed 37 people - being blamed on the separatist Kurdish Worker’s Party or PKK.

Isis has been angered by Turkey participation in a US-led coalition against its positions in Syria and Iraq.

A suicide attack on the border town of Suruc which killed 28 people in July last year pushed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan into stepping attacks on the group.

Medics try to help wounded people after an explosion in Istiklal Street in Istanbul, Turkey

Mr Ala said Ankara was determined to continue its fight against extremists but admitted they were struggling to prevent suicide attacks.

"We are working so that they do not happen," he said.

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