Death toll after Turkey blasts rises to 44: Minister

PHOTO: AFP

Istanbul - The death toll from the Istanbul twin bombings near a major football stadium has risen to 44, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag said Monday.

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).

Twin blasts rock Istanbul football stadium

  • Two explosions, one thought to have been a suicide bomb, killed 15 people and wounded 69 outside a football stadium in Istanbul, security sources said, in an attack that appeared to target police hours after a match between two of Turkey's top teams.
  • President Tayyip Erdogan described the blasts outside the Vodafone Arena, home to Istanbul's Besiktas football team, as a terrorist attack on police and civilians.
  • He said the aim had been to cause the maximum number of casualties.
  • Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said one of the explosions hit directly outside the stadium, while the suspected suicide bomber struck in the adjacent Macka park.
  • There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
  • Three separate security sources said at least 13 people had been killed but there was no official confirmation of this.
  • A Reuters photographer said many riot police officers were seriously wounded.
  • A police water cannon doused the wreckage of a burned-out car and there were two separate fires on the road outside the stadium.
  • "It was like hell. The flames went all the way up to the sky. I was drinking tea at the cafe next to the mosque," said Omer Yilmaz, who works as a cleaner at the nearby Dolmabahce mosque, directly across the road from the stadium.
  • Turkey has been hit by a series of bombings in recent years, some blamed on Islamic State militants, others claimed by Kurdish and far-leftist militant groups.

Turkey has been hit by multiple attacks this year blamed on Kurdish militants and Islamic State jihadists.

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.

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