Turkey fingers Kurdish rebels for twin blasts at stadium

Turkey's Interior Ministry says a suspected car bomb outside a football stadium in central Istanbul injured at least 20 people.
Investigators gathering evidence near a wrecked water cannon outside the Vodafone Arena, where two blasts on Saturday appeared to be a coordinated attack on police. No one has claimed responsibility, but the Turkish authorities said early signs point
Investigators gathering evidence near a wrecked water cannon outside the Vodafone Arena, where two blasts on Saturday appeared to be a coordinated attack on police. No one has claimed responsibility, but the Turkish authorities said early signs point to the Kurdistan Workers Party.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Attacks after soccer match leave 38 dead, 155 injured; Interior Minister vows vengeance

ISTANBUL • Turkey said yesterday that Kurdish militants may be responsible for the two bombings that killed 38 people and wounded 155 in what looked to be a coordinated attack on police outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul after a match between two top teams.

The blasts on Saturday night - a car bomb outside the Vodafone Arena, home to Istanbul's Besiktas soccer team, followed by a suicide bomb attack in an adjacent park less than a minute later - shook a nation still trying to recover from a series of deadly bombings this year in cities including Istanbul and the capital Ankara.

Turkey's Interior Minister vowed vengeance for the bombings and warned those who voiced support for the attackers on social media. "Sooner or later, we will have our vengeance. This blood will not be left on the ground, no matter what the price, what the cost," Mr Suleyman Soylu said at the funeral of slain officers at Istanbul police headquarters.

There was no claim of responsibility, but Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said early indications pointed to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out a three-decade insurgency, mainly in Turkey's largely Kurdish south-east.

Singapore has strongly condemned the acts of terror in a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). "We extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish those injured a speedy recovery," a ministry spokesman said in the statement.

 

The Singapore Embassy in Ankara has been in touch with the local authorities, and there are no reports of any Singaporeans directly affected by the incident, it added.

"Singaporeans in Turkey are advised to exercise vigilance. They should also monitor the local news and follow the instructions of the Turkish authorities," the MFA statement said.

State broadcaster TRT showed images of a car engulfed in flames, with emergency services swarming the scene outside the stadium where soccer teams Besiktas and Bursaspor had played in a Super Lig match. Other footage showed wrecked police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast shattered the windows of nearby homes.

"I heard two explosions in less than one minute, followed by the sound of gunshots," one witness said on condition of anonymity.

Flags were flown at half mast, and yesterday was declared a day of national mourning, the Turkish Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. A march against terrorism had been called for noon (5pm Singapore time) in Istanbul, Mr Kurtulmus said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a planned trip to Kazakhstan, his office said. Mr Erdogan described the blasts as a terrorist attack on police and civilians.

He said the aim of the bombings, two hours after the end of a match attended by thousands of people, had been to cause maximum casualties. "Nobody should doubt that with God's will, we as a country and a nation will overcome terror, terrorist organisations... and the forces behind them," he said in a statement.

Mr Soylu said 13 people had been detained so far in relation to the attack, citing evidence collected from the detonated vehicle.

A forensic team yesterday inspected the stadium and the park to collect evidence. Meanwhile, city workers cleaned up the area. Later, people gathered at the site of the car bombing to lay flowers, many holding Turkish flags.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg condemned what he described as "horrific acts of terror", while European leaders also sent messages of solidarity. The United States condemned the attack and said it stood with its Nato ally.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2016, with the headline 'Turkey fingers Kurdish rebels for twin blasts at stadium'. Print Edition | Subscribe