Kurdish armed group PKK denies involvement in Istanbul attack -website
ISTANBUL — Turkish authorities have detained 46 suspects in connection with a deadly bomb attack on one of Istanbul’s busiest shopping streets, including a woman they said had planted the explosives, police said Monday.
The explosion, which occurred Sunday afternoon on Istiklal Street as it was teeming with shoppers, killed at least six people and wounded dozens of others.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Turkish officials have blamed the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has fought a long insurgency against Turkey’s government, for the explosion. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called it a “treacherous attack.”
The PKK, for its part, denied any role in the attack and claimed the government was using it as a pretext to move against Kurdish forces in Syria.
“Our people and the democratic public know closely that we are not related to this incident, that we will not directly target civilians and that we do not accept actions targeting civilians,” it said in a statement carried by Kurdish media.
The police on Monday identified the female suspect as a Syrian national named Ahlam Albashir and said she had confessed during an “interrogation” to being trained by Kurdish militants as an intelligence officer. She had entered Turkey illegally via Syria, a police statement said.
A picture shared by the authorities showed the suspect handcuffed and wearing a purple sweatshirt that said “New York.”
Video footage of the explosion showed a small fireball on Istiklal Street, a storied shopping thoroughfare in Istanbul’s historic Beyoglu district, and panicked pedestrians fleeing. By Monday morning, the street appeared emptier than normal, apart from a large entourage that followed the city’s mayor as he greeted shop and restaurant workers. Municipal workers dug through planters on the street, looking for hidden objects.
The White House in a statement on Sunday condemned the “act of violence” in Istanbul and expressed its condolences to the victims’ relatives. “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO Ally Turkiye in countering terrorism,” it said.
The incident once again raised the specter of terrorist violence in Turkey, a country that over the past decade has been a frequent target of attacks carried out by militants from the Islamic State or Kurdish groups, among others.
Soylu on Monday said authorities had prevented nearly 200 such attacks this year.