Suicide bomber targets police, injures 32 in the heart of Istanbul
A suspected suicide bomber injured 32 people in Istanbul's central Taksim Square yesterday, including 15 police officers and 17 civilians. Two of the policemen, Halil Keskinbicak and Muzaffer Aslan, and three of the civilians are said to be in critical condition. The attacker, who was killed in the explosion, appeared to be male, Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said. Istanbul Police Chief Huseyin Capkin said the blast targeted the police but it was unclear who was behind it, as no group has claimed responsibility. In past years the terrorist PKK as well as other groups have all set off bombs in Istanbul, and yesterday was the last day of a unilateral so-called cease-fire by the PKK. Interior Minister Besir Atalay confirmed that the attack was a suicide bombing, and added, "We should not make hasty comments over who carried out the attack." Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was on a trip to the southeastern province of Mardin, vehemently condemned the attack. Expressing his best wishes to the injured, Erdogan vowed to continue to stand against terrorism. "I would like to reiterate that those who threaten Turkey's peace, security and development will not be tolerated," he said. "These kinds of attacks will not stop Turkey from reaching its goals of peace, brotherhood and development. We stand together; we are brothers." After speaking with Governor Mutlu about the attack, President Abdullah Gul also issued a statement. "I vehemently condemn this attack," he said. "Our sole source of consolation is that there were no fatalities. All sectors of society, without exception, should take a strong stand against terrorism in the face of this vicious attack." In sweeping operations, the Istanbul Police Department's counterterrorism, intelligence and special operation units were mobilized to find a suspect linked to the attack who was reportedly on the scene.