At least 20 police officers were wounded after two loud explosions struck near Besiktas’ stadium on Saturday, about two hours after the Turkish club beat Bursaspor.
One of the blasts was thought to be a car bomb and the second appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomber.
Bursaspor said none of the wounded were fans and issued a statement saying “we wish a speedy recovery to our wounded citizens.” Besiktas “strongly condemned” terrorism and the attack in a statement posted on its website.
Police cordoned off the area as smoke rose from near the newly built Vodafone Arena. Witnesses said gunfire could be heard in what appeared to have been an armed attack on police.
The private NTV channel reported that more than 70 people were taken to hospitals and that the target of the attack was a bus for riot police.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement saying “unfortunately we have martyrs and wounded” but did not specify the number.
The first and larger explosion took place about 10:30 p.m. after the home team Besiktas beat visitor Bursaspor 2-1 in the Turkish Super League. Officials gave no immediate details on the nature of the second explosion, which sounded like it came from the same area.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who gave the casualty toll and said the wounded were police officers, was heading from Ankara to Istanbul.
“It is thought to be a car bomb at a point where our special forces police were located, right after the match at the exit where Bursaspor fans exited, after the fans had left,” Soylu was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. “We have no information on the number of dead. God willing, we hope there won’t be any. The wounded are police.”
Soylu said the explosion took place on a hill adjacent to and overlooking the stadium. Television images showed more than a dozen ambulances on a street hugging the stadium and a police helicopter flying overhead with its searchlights on. The window glass of nearby buildings was shattered by the blasts and coated the pavement.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. This year Istanbul has witnessed bombings attributed by authorities to the Islamic State group or claimed by Kurdish militants.
Turkey’s radio and television board issued a temporary coverage ban citing national security concerns. It said “to avoid broadcasts that can result in public fear, panic or chaos, or that will serve the aims of terrorist organisations.”
In March, the father of Galatasaray’s Turkey international Umut Bulut was among at least 37 killed when a car bomb exploded in Ankara, about 350 kilometres from Istanbul.
Culled from Squawka