An explosion in Istanbul killed at least six people and injured 81 on Sunday, in what Turkey’s president condemns as a terrorist act.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, president of the transcontinental country situated between Europe and Asia, condemned the attacks on Sunday afternoon and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
“The relevant agencies of our state are working to find the perpetrators of this heinous act, as well as the circles behind it,” he said. “Attempts to make Turkey and the Turkish nation surrender through terror have never been and will never be successful. Let our people be assured that all aspects of this incident will be clarified and the perpetrators will be punished as they deserve.”
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The blast occurred in a popular section of Istanbul where pedestrians can walk along Istiklal Avenue.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya tweeted that the explosion happened around 4:20 pm or 13:20 GMT.
Since the explosion, the Turkish authorities have reported six dead and 81 injured.
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Several videos of the act surfaced on social media, including one showing an explosion in the distance before a loud crash causes pedestrians to turn and flee the scene.
Other videos showed police controlling the scene, the aftermath with bodies strewn on the ground with broken limbs and bloody appendages, and emergency crews rushing to help.
Several world leaders condemned the violent act in public statements.
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Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Twitter that she was “appalled by the explosion in #Istanbul”, adding that her thoughts are with the injured and the families and friends of those who lost their lives.”
The White House also weighed in with a similar statement.
“The United States strongly condemns the act of violence that took place today in Istanbul, Turkey,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “Our thoughts are with those who were injured and our deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our NATO ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism.”
The UK government issued a travel advisory in the area and the State of Kuwait consulate general in Istanbul confirmed that none of its citizens were among the victims injured in the blast.
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The Kuwaiti consulate asked Kuwaiti citizens in Istanbul to stay away from meeting places, be careful and follow the instructions of the security authorities.
Between 2015 and 2017, Turkey was hit by a series of deadly attacks by the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants seeking independence.
According to the Associated Press, Erdoğan’s anti-terrorism campaign focused on cracking down on militants, Kurdish lawmakers and activists is a key rallying point for him as he seeks re-election next year.