Two bomb blasts outside a football stadium in Istanbul have left 29 dead and 166 injured, the country’s interior minister has said.
The explosions took place two hours after a match between two of Turkey’s leading teams, Besiktas and Bursaspor. Of those who died, 27 were police officers.
“Unfortunately we have martyrs and wounded,” said the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a statement. One of the blasts was caused by a car bomb and the second was a suicide attack at Macka Park nearby, 45 seconds later.
At the time of the blast Mr. Erdogan was at his Istanbul residence in the suburb of Tarabya further down the Bosphorus, state media said.
Police also carried out a controlled explosion.
The Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, who released the latest casualty figures, said the car bomb was detonated remotely.
He added that 17 of those injured were undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital, with six in intensive care. Ten people have been detained in connection with the bombings.
Police arrive at the site of an explosion in central Istanbul CREDIT: REUTERS
Armed police sealed off streets around the Vodafone Arena, home to the Besiktas football team.
Tv footage showed what appeared to be the wreckage of a burned-out car and two separate fires on the road outside the stadium.
The blast came hours after a match between two of Turkey TOP teams CREDIT: REUTERS
Mr. Soylu said initial indications were the blast was caused by a Car bomb targeting a riot police bus.
Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said on Twitter that it was a terrorist attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Omer Yilmiz, a cleaner at the nearby Dolmabahce mosque, said: “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. People ducked under the tables,women began crying. Football fans drinking tea at the cafe sought shelter, it was horrible.”
It happened after Besiktas beat visitors Bursaspor 2-1 in the Turkish Super League. More than a dozen ambulances arrived on a street next to the stadium.
Besiktas football club issued a statement condemning the attack and confirming none of the fans or players were hurt.
“Terrorists… attacked our heroic security forces who ensure that both our fans and Bursaspor’s supporters are safe. We will stand firm against the vile attackers who will never achieve their goal.”
Turkey has experienced a bloody year of militant attacks in its two biggest cities that have left dozens dead and put the country on high alert.
Kurdish militants have twice struck in Ankara, while suspected Islamic State group suicide bombers have hit Istanbul on three occasions.
Turkish policemen at the site of an explosion in central Istanbul CREDIT: REUTERS
In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities pointing the finger at Islamic State.
Another 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in August in a suicide attack by an Islamic State-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.
The country is also still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from state institutions.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, expressed his condolences to the victims and condemned the attack.