Eight injured in İstanbul explosion

Initial images from the scene of the explosion.

May 26, 2011, Thursday/ 09:19:00

An explosion at a bus stop that rocked the Etiler neighborhood of İstanbul early on Thursday and was most likely caused by a bomb injured eight people, officials have said.

The explosion took place near Akmerkez, one of İstanbul's leading shopping centers, around 9 a.m. Initial reports said one person was injured but İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu and İstanbul Police Chief Hüseyin Çapkın said eight people, including a police officer, were injured in the blast. They said their injuries are not life threatening.

Speaking to reporters at the scene of the explosion, Çapkın said the explosive was of medium strength, adding it was not a percussion bomb but aimed to create damage. He said five vehicles, including a municipal bus, were damaged in the blast. Çapkın noted that the bomb had been placed on an electric bike under the bridge.

Ambulances were immediately dispatched to the area. An eyewitness who spoke to the NTV news channel said she heard only one explosion. The eyewitness, who identified herself as an employee of a shop in Akmerkez, said police evacuated the area fearing that there may be other explosions. The eyewitness also confirmed that the explosion took place at the bus stop under the Koç Bridge.

There are reports that the explosion may have targeted a police academy near Akmerkez.

Turkey has been experiencing increased tension in recent weeks, with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) stepping up their campaign of violence ahead of the June 12 parliamentary elections. The group has mainly targeted the police in its recent attacks.

Çapkın said the fact that the explosion took place near the police academy and its timing are the two issues that deserve attention. “We will investigate whether the police academy was targeted,” he said. As for the question of who may be behind the attack, the police chief said it would be wrong to prematurely comment on this issue. “We will find the perpetrators,” he noted.

Governor Mutlu also spoke to reporters later in the day and said the attack targeted civilians. He said no group had claimed responsibility for the attack. Mutlu said it was a coincidence that a police officer was wounded in the attack.

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