A popular tourist site in the heart of Istanbul was turned into a scene of horror Tuesday morning when a massive explosion sent bodies flying in Sultanahmet Square.
At least 10 people were killed and 15 more are wounded, according to the Istanbul governor’s office.
Israel Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachson told JewishPress.com that “as far as he knows” no Israelis were present at the time of the blast.
— Haidar Sumeri (@IraqiSecurity) January 12, 2016
Officials believe the explosion may have been caused by a suicide bomber, according to numerous reports. A Turkish official told AFP on condition of anonymity that terrorist links are suspected. The Istanbul governor’s office said authorities are investigating the type of explosives used in the blast.
Three of the injured foreigners are from Germany. Two are from Norway, according to Dogan News Agency. There was a group of German tourists on the square at the time of the blast, Reuters reported.
Shortly after the explosion, Turkish authorities banned coverage by media, Anadolu news agency reported.
The blast occurred near the obelisk of Theodosius in Istanbul’s Fatih district, not far from the famed Blue Mosque. Some of the wounded, including tourists, were evacuated to the Haseki Research and Training Hospital.
One eyewitness told news reporters the explosion was instantaneous, like “a ball of flame.”
There have been two major bombing attacks within the past 12 month in Turkey, both by Da’esh (ISIS). More than 30 people died in July in an ISIS suicide bombing in the border town of Suruc, near Syria. The second attack was a twin bombing by a local ISIS cell outside a main train station in Ankara last October killed more than 100 demonstrators at a peace rally.