11 Dec 2016

Istanbul blasts: 38 dead, 155 wounded

10:34 pm on 11 December 2016

The death toll from a double bombing in Turkey has risen to 38.

A Turkish emergency worker stand in front of a damaged bus on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of football club Besiktas in central Istanbul on December 10, 2016.

An emergency worker stands in front of a bus damaged in the blast. Photo: AFP

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attack outside a football stadium in Istanbul, which he said was intended to cause the maximum number of casualties.

The two bombs exploded less than a minute apart, shortly after a match between two of Turkey's top teams.

Thirty of those who died were police officers.

A total of 155 people are still being treated in hospital, with 14 of them in intensive care, said Turkey's health minister Recep Akdag.

The Turkish government says it suspects Kurdish militants may be responsible.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 10 people had been detained based on evidence from the remains of the car.

The blasts came hours after the end of a match between two of Turkey's top teams, in what appeared to be an attack targeting riot police.

Vodafone Arena, which lies on the edge of the Bosphorus in the central city, is home to Besiktas, which was playing Bursa-based team Bursaspor.

The first blast targeted a riot police bus, and the second took place in a nearby park while a suspect was surrounded by officers.

A Reuters photographer said many officers were seriously wounded.

"It was like hell. The flames went all the way up to the sky. I was drinking tea at the cafe next to the mosque," said Omer Yilmaz, who works as a cleaner at the nearby Dolmabahce mosque.

"People ducked under the tables, women began crying. Football fans drinking tea at the cafe sought shelter, it was horrible," he said.

Turkish police officers and forensic work next to damaged police vehicles and cars on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of football club Besiktas in central Istanbul on December 10, 2016.

Police officers and forensic investigators at the scene of the car bomb. Photo: AFP

Armed police sealed off streets around the stadium. A police water cannon doused the wreckage of a burned-out car and there were two separate fires on the road outside the building.

Broadcaster NTV said earlier that the explosion targeted a police vehicle that was leaving the stadium after fans had already dispersed.

Day of mourning declared

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in the city at the time of the explosion, confirmed fatalities but gave no details.

"A terrorist attack has been carried out against our security forces and our citizens," he said.

"It has been understood that the explosions after the Besiktas-Bursaspor football game aimed to maximise casualties. As a result of these attacks unfortunately we have martyrs and wounded."

"I condemn the cruel terror attack in Istanbul. Those attacking our nation's unity and solidarity will never win," Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic said on Twitter.

Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan also described it as a terrorist attack.

The country has declared a day of national mourning for the victims.

Turkey has been hit by a series of bombings in recent years, some blamed on Islamic State militants, others claimed by Kurdish and far-leftist militant groups.

In June, about 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded when three suspected Islamic State militants carried out a gun and bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

- Reuters

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