Sunday, 31 October 2010

BBC News - Istanbul suicide blast injures 22, including 10 police

31 October 2010 Last updated at 12:11

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Istanbul suicide blast injures 22, including 10 police

The blast occurred near the independence monument in Taksim Square

A suicide bomb blast in the centre of Istanbul has injured 22 people, including 10 policemen.

Police say the bomber tried to board a police bus in Taksim Square. Twelve civilians were also hurt.

No group has said it carried out the attack, but a two-month-old ceasefire by Kurdish rebels was due to expire later on Sunday, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul.

Police identified other bombs nearby and have been working to disable them.

Television pictures from Taksim Square showed body parts lying on the ground.

A large explosion was heard throughout central Istanbul just after 0900 GMT.

Past attacks

The explosion took place right next to the independence monument on Taksim Square, which is always crowded with people, our correspondent says.

There are usually squads of riot police posted at this part of the square, as it is often the site of demonstrations.

A police spokesman has said he believes they were the target of the explosion, which he said may have been caused by a suicide bomber.

Eyewitness Aris Virkas told the BBC that he was walking through Taksim Square when he heard the blast.

"I turned around and saw policemen with blood on their face and someone lying on the ground," he said. "People, including police, were running around in panic.

"There was a big bus with maybe 20 police officers: they ran out of the bus, trying to find out what's going on.

"After a couple of minutes, they started asking people to step back. I think I think I heard a few gunshots afterwards, but I can't be certain it wasn't something else."


Our correspondent says suspicion is likely to fall on Kurdish separatist factions, or groups linked to al-Qaeda.

The Kurdish separatist PKK party has carried out bomb attacks in Istanbul in the past, as have extreme left-wing and Islamist groups.

The Kurdish Workers' Party, the PKK, went on ceasefire two months ago but that is due to run out on Sunday night.

However, PKK leaders have said recently that they will no longer target civilians.

Our correspondent says al-Qaeda-linked groups are small but active in Turkey, and police make frequent arrests. More than 100 suspected al-Qaeda militants have been arrested so far this year.

A group with ties to al-Qaeda carried out the bombing of the British consulate in Istanbul in 2003 in which 28 people died.

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