The blast occurred in an area of İstanbul close to the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AK Party, where a policeman was killed in a bomb attack last year. Thursday's attack wrecked the police bus along with other vehicles nearby. No terrorist organization had yet claimed responsibility for the incident by the time Today's Zaman went to print Thursday evening. “We will never bow to such attacks,” Erdoğan said during a televised news conference.
“We will continue our struggle against terrorism and the culprits will be caught as soon as possible,” he added. Commenting on the attack, terrorism experts told Today’s Zaman on Thursday there has been negligence in the implementation of domestic security measures despite the government having informed police departments in all provinces in February about an increased possibility of terrorist attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The intended target of the attack appears to have been the police vehicle carrying 21 officers that was just passing the site when the blast occurred, said Police Chief Hüseyin Çapkın.
The bus came to a halt some 50 meters away, one witness told the press on Thursday. Forensic teams quickly covered it in tarps as experts searched a cordoned-off area for fragments of the bomb.
İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said none of those injured are in serious condition. He said the bomb was made of plastic explosives, mounted on a motorcycle and detonated remotely when the police minibus passed by. “Three of the injured police officers have been sent to the Okmeydanı Research and Teaching Hospital, while those who sustained only minor injuries were treated by medics at the scene. We still don’t have any information regarding the perpetrators, but we’re investigating it thoroughly,” Mutlu added. Noting he has not seen a terrorist explosion in İstanbul in a long time, Mutlu said İstanbul is a safe city and that such attacks will not change the city’s safety.
NTV television, without citing sources, said the bomb was similar to another device planted on a bicycle that exploded near a bus stop in İstanbul last year, wounding eight people, including a police officer. The government at the time said the attack resembled a PKK terrorist attack. Police took security measures at the scene of the incident to keep people in the area safe in the event of a possible second blast. All windows of a building in the area shattered from the explosion.
One of the witnesses, Kadir Çankaya, who was doing construction work in the area, stated that he and his uncle, Süleyman Demir, had moved the motorcycle to where it exploded just 10 minutes before the blast as it had been preventing them from completing their work. Demir was slightly wounded by the attack and was taken to a hospital.
In 2007, bombs mounted on bicycles exploded in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır in southeastern Turkey and in the western coastal city of İzmir. Authorities blamed the PKK for those attacks, which killed one person and wounded 20.