According to an official, Turkish police have apprehended a culprit in the central Istanbul explosion that killed at least eight people and injured 81 others.
Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s Interior Minister, told journalists on Monday that the suspect being held was the “individual who left the bomb that caused the explosion” on a popular boulevard in the country’s largest metropolis.
Soylu blamed the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the Istiklal Avenue blast, adding, “Our assessment is that the order for the deadly terrorist act came from Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria,” where the organization has its Syrian headquarters.
“We will retaliate against those who are responsible for this heinous terror attack,” he added, adding that the death toll had grown from six to eight and that 81 people had been injured, two of whom were in “serious condition.”
No group has officially claimed credit for the explosion.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the explosion “treacherous” and claimed it “smells like terrorism” on Sunday. Before departing for the Group of 20 summits in Indonesia, Erdogan stated that preliminary intelligence indicated that a “woman had played a part in the incident.
Later that same day, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag informed the media that the woman had been seated on one of the chairs on Istiklal Avenue for even more than 40 minutes.
He claimed that the explosion happened mere minutes after she awoke.
Soylu’s statement on Monday provided no other information on the woman.
The PKK, designated as a “terrorist” organisation by Ankara and its Western backers, has waged a lethal fight for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s.
The group is regularly attacked by Turkish military operations, and it is also at the center of a squabble between Sweden and Turkey, which has been stalling Stockholm’s entrance into NATO since May, accusing it of being too lenient toward the PKK.
A PKK faction earlier claimed responsibility for winning bombs outside an Istanbul soccer stadium in December 2016, killing 38 people and injuring 155.
Earlier that year, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the pedestrian thoroughfare of Istiklal in Beyoglu’s old neighbourhood, killing at least five people.
Denouncements for Sunday’s incident, as well as sympathies for the deceased, poured in from Greece, Egypt, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Azerbaijan, Italy, and Pakistan.
Greece “unequivocally” condemned the explosion and extended condolences, while the US remained “shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO ally in countering terrorism.”
“We feel your anguish,” French President Emmanuel Macron declared in a statement to Turks. ” We stand with you in the fight against terrorism.”
“The anguish of the friendly Turkish people is our pain,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted in Turkish.
“My sympathies are with the victims and their families,” tweeted European Council President Charles Michel.