Erdogan decries ‘ugly face of terror’ as twin blasts said to kill 13
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Erdogan decries ‘ugly face of terror’ as twin blasts said to kill 13

Israel’s envoy condemns ‘hideous attack’ after car, suicide bombings strike Istanbul, outside soccer stadium and at nearby park

A Turkish emergency worker stand in front of a damaged bus on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of football club Besiktas in central Istanbul on December 10, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)
A Turkish emergency worker stand in front of a damaged bus on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of football club Besiktas in central Istanbul on December 10, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there were several fatal casualties in the twin bomb attacks that rocked the heart of Istanbul on Saturday, as reports indicated at least 13 people had been killed.

“Unfortunately we have martrys and wounded” as a result of twin blasts, Erdogan said in a statement, one of which is believed to have been caused by a car bomb outside a soccer stadium and another by a suicide attack at a nearby park.

“An act of terror targeted our security forces and citizens at Besiktas tonight,” Erdogan said. Besiktas is also the name of the neighborhood around club’s arena.

Erdogan said the blasts shortly after the end of the match sought to cause maximum loss of life.

“We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples down any form of value and morals,” he said.

Erdogan said that “the name or the method of the terrorist organization which perpetrated the vile attack” did not matter. “Nobody should doubt that we will defeat terror, terror groups, terrorists and of course the forces behind them, with God’s help,” he said.

Government officials could not give a precise toll. The death toll of over a dozen was reported by Reuters, which quoted Turkish security officials.

Eitan Na’eh, Israel’s newly reinstated ambassador to Turkey, condemned what he described as a “hideous attack” and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

The fatal blast struck the area outside Istanbul giant Besiktas soccer team’s stadium after a match against the Bursaspor club, targeting a bus packed with police officers, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. He initially said some 20 officers were wounded in the attack.

The two explosions hit the stadium area after fans had gone home.

“Two bombings may have taken place according to our understanding: one outside the stadium… the other at Macka Park,” Soylu told reporters in Istanbul. “The explosion at Macka Park is believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.”

Police cordoned off the area as smoke rose from behind the newly built Vodafone Arena Stadium, known colloquially as Besiktas Stadium after the local team and neighborhood. Witnesses also heard gunfire after the explosions.

Damaged police vehicles and cars are pictured on December 10, 2016 on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of football club Besiktas in central Istanbul.(AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)
Damaged police vehicles and cars are pictured on December 10, 2016 on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of football club Besiktas in central Istanbul.(AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)

The first and larger explosion took place about 10:30 p.m. after the home team Besiktas beat visitor Bursaspor 2-1 in the Turkish Super League.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. This year Istanbul has witnessed bombings attributed by authorities to the Islamic State group or claimed by Kurdish militants.

Turkey’s Transportation Minister Ahmet Arslan wished a speedy recovery on Twitter to the victims of what he said was a terrorist attack.

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