ISTANBUL (AFP) - The death toll from the Istanbul twin bombings near a major football stadium has risen to 44, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag said Monday (Dec 12).
The late Saturday attacks saw a car bomb explode outside the home stadium of football giants Besiktas and less than a minute later, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a group of police at a nearby park.
"It is very painful that we lost 36 of our police officers and eight civilians in a bloody attack," Akdag told parliament, Dogan news agency reported.
The blasts also injured 166 people and were claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), which is seen as a radical offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Turkey has been hit by multiple attacks this year blamed on Kurdish militants and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.
The TAK group has claimed three major strikes this year. Two were in Ankara: one on February 17 that left 28 dead and another on March 13 that killed 34; as well as a car bombing in Istanbul on June 7 in which 11 people died.