Monday, July 28, 2008

Two bombs detonated in the Güngören district of Istanbul, Turkey Sunday evening, killing at least 17 people and wounding over 150. The neighborhood targeted is mainly residential, and the victims were civilians. At least five of those killed were children, according to local officials.

This bombing was the worst terrorist attack in Istanbul since the 2003 Istanbul Bombings, in which truck bombs exploded outside two Istanbul synagogues, killing 23 and wounding more than 300. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the 2003 attack.

The initial explosion caused little damage, but attracted crowds of onlookers. The second more lethal blast occurred 10 minutes later, about 50 metres away.

“After the first explosion, I rushed outside to check on my two sons, found both of them. But my elder son insisted on going back to find his father,” said Nimet Arslan to International Herald Tribune. Following the second bomb, she said, “a dark smoke filled the air and all I could see or hear was people screaming.” The elder son suffered a broken leg.

Turkish President Abdullah Gül said in a statement, “Nothing can be achieved by terror, violently claiming lives of the innocent. These attacks show the inhumanity and misery of the assailants.”

It is not yet clear who is responsible, but Turkish authorities suspect the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group. “Of course, there are links with the separatist organization,” the governor of Istanbul province, Muammer Güler said, “It’s surely a terror attack, there’s no doubt.” This follows a recent shooting attack on the United States consulate in Istanbul. The US embassy is in Ankara.

On Sunday, the Turkish military announced that its fighter jets had raided twelve PKK settlements in Northern Iraq, which the PKK uses as a base to launch attacks on Turkey, raising speculation of PKK involvement in this attack. However Zubeyir Aydar, a senior Kurdish militant, denied any involvement in the attacks in a statement to a pro-PKK news agency.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an visited the site on Monday, calling for calm and nationwide solidarity.