Two separate terror attacks ripped through Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday morning. The twin terror bombing targeted security personnel at a soccer stadium and is reported to have left dozens dead. As reported by Al Jazeera, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly made a statement condemning the Beskitas stadium bombing, recalling the recent wave of terror that the country has endured.
“A terrorist attack has been carried out against our security forces and our citizens. We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples down any form of value and morals.”
The twin blasts, one larger car bomb and a second bombing perpetrated by a suicide bomber, occurred shortly after a soccer match at the Beskitas Vodafone Arena. At around 11 p.m. local time, the first blast was detonated remotely with the second, smaller suicide bomb following shortly after at nearby Macka Park. The second blast took place as police evacuated the stadium which seats up to 40,000 spectators, making it a small comfort that the terror bombing took place after Bursaspor soccer team fans had left the premises shortly before the blast.
In a chilling video released on Twitter, the Istanbul terror bombing can be seen in the background as two young men play guitar and sing. The shocking blasts knock the men over shortly after the fiery explosion is seen in the background.
It is believed that the Istanbul terror bombing was the work of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK frequently targets security forces as part of their campaign against the Turkish state. Founded in 1984, the PKK has sought equal rights and self-determination for Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent. The Kurds comprise up to 25 percent of Turkey’s population and have suffered persecution for decades. Although the PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State, they have recently gained international sympathy by joining the fight against Islamic State.
As French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy wrote in the New Republic in 2014, some feel that “the PKK and its affiliated parties should be recognized for what they are: agents of stability now and, tomorrow, of peace in the Middle East.” However, after Sunday’s Istanbul terror attack, it is unclear whether fighting a common enemy is sufficient to make the PKK a genuine ally.
Turkish President Erdogan condemned the group in his official statement on the Istanbul terror bombing.
“PKK tends to target any representations of the Turkish state particularly security forces. Sadly, this attack will further reinforce the impression that Turkey is becoming increasingly insecure and unstable, that Turkey is no longer the bastion of tranquility in a very troubled region.”
The twin blasts are reported to have killed forty people so far, mostly police officers that were managing the crowds at the stadium. Dozens more are reported wounded, many critically. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu stated that 13 people have been arrested in connection to the Istanbul terror bombing, but as reported by CNN, no further details have been released.
“The evidence so far points to the PKK, the ministry has some of the information on framework about how it was planned and organized but for the sake of the investigation please forgive that I won’t share any details.”
Turkey is no stranger to terror. It has been a devastating year for Istanbul which has been attacked by suicide bombers three times, and Turkey’s capital Ankara has been struck twice. In June of this year, Istanbul’s international airport was targeted leaving 41 dead in a joint bombing and shooting terror attack. The increase in terror bombings has led the U.S. government to evacuate the families of Istanbul consulate staff as the Iraqi and Syrian conflicts leech into Turkey.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg roundly condemned the Istanbul terror bombing.
“I condemn the horrific acts of terror in Istanbul. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones in the bomb attacks, with those wounded and with the people of Turkey.”
A national day of mourning has been declared in Turkey, with flags flying at half-mast in the aftermath of the Istanbul terror bombing.
[Featured Image by Kurtulus Ari/Getty Images]