Blasts kill dozens near Istanbul’s Besiktas stadium

The blasts occurred two hours after a football match at the Besiktas Vodafone arena [Murad Sezer/Reuters]-

At least 29 killed and more than 160 others wounded in possible attack on police after a football match in Turkish city.

Two explosions have hit the Turkish city of Istanbul, killing at least 29 people, mostly police personnel, and wounding more than 160 others, according to authorities.

Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, quoted security sources as saying that they have detained 10 people in connection with the bombings.

Most of those killed were police but two civilians are also amongst the dead, she said.

“I heard two loud explosions within 30 seconds of each other,” Omer Yilmaz, a cleaner at the nearby Dolmabahce Mosque, told Al Jazeera.

“I saw flames. I walked towards the police bus which was on fire and and I saw policemen inside.”

In a statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “A terrorist attack has been carried out against our security forces and our citizens. It has been understood that the explosions after the Besiktas-Bursaspor football game aimed to maximise casualties. As a result of these attacks unfortunately we have martyrs and wounded.”

Police evacuated the area around the Besiktas football arena following the explosions, which the interior ministry said was a car bomb attack. The second explosion at a nearby park was reportedly carried out by a suicide bomber.

The arena is located across the historic Dolmabahce Palace overlooking the Bosphorus Strait.

Our correspondent said all the roads leading to the arena have been closed to the public. Public transportation were also suspended, she said.

She said the blasts occurred about two hours after a football match attended by thousands of people at the Besiktas Vodafone arena.

A video posted on Twitter captured the moment of the explosion.

Vodafone Arena ( Maçka Parkı ) etrafinda gerceklesen dan görüntüler.

The Turkish broadcaster NTV says the blasts targeted police vehicle leaving the arena after fans had already dispersed following the football match.

Bloody attacks

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But Fadi Hakura, a security analyst, told Al Jazeera that the attack has all the hallmarks of a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) operation.

“PKK tends to target any representations of the Turkish state particularly security forces,” he said.

“Sadly, this attack will further reinforce the impression that Turkey is becoming increasingly insecure and unstable, that Turkey is no longer the bastion of tranquility in a very troubled region.”

Turkey has experienced a bloody year of attacks in its two biggest cities that have left dozens dead and put the country on high alert.

Kurdish armed groups have twice struck in the capital Ankara, while suspected Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) suicide bombers have hit Istanbul on three occasions.

In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities pointing the finger at ISIL.

Another 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in August in a suicide attack by an ISIL-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

The country is also still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed on the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a mass dismissal of his alleged supporters from state institutions.

The government imposed a temporary blackout on coverage of the explosions in Turkey, citing national security reasons.

It said security forces in Istanbul are on high alert.


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