At least six dead in an attack in the heart of Istanbul

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At least six dead in an attack in the heart of Istanbul

Police and emergency services at the scene of the explosion in Istiklal Street, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare in Istanbul.

An attack targeted the beating heart of Istanbul, Turkey's main city and economic capital, on Sunday, killing at least six people and injuring dozens in the busy shopping street of Istiklal.

The explosion of high power occurred around 4:20 p.m. (local time), when the crowd was particularly dense in this popular place for walking by Istanbul residents and tourists.< /p>

In a statement to the press broadcast live, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced a vile attack. There are currently 6 dead and 81 injured.

The first observations suggest a terrorist attack, said the head of state, adding that a woman would be there involved, without further details.

“The perpetrators of this vile attack will be exposed. Let our people be sure [that they] will be punished. »

— Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President

Mr. Erdogan has already faced a campaign of terror across the country in 2015-2016.

Partly claimed by the Islamic State group, it left nearly 500 dead and more than 2,000 injured.

A first report by the governor of Istanbul, Ali Yerlikaya, reported 4 dead and 38 injured.

The police immediately established a wide security cordon to prevent access to the affected area for fear of a second explosion. An imposing deployment of security forces also blocked all access to the neighborhood and the adjacent streets, noted the AFP videographer.

I was at 50- 55 meters away, there was suddenly a sound of explosion. I saw three or four people on the ground, witness Cemal Denizci, 57, told AFP.

“People were running in panic. The noise was huge. There was black smoke. The sound was so loud, almost deafening. »

— Cemal Denizci, witness to the explosion

Two women and two children go to a safe area after the explosion.

According to images posted on social networks at the time of the explosion, it, accompanied by flames, was heard from afar and immediately triggered a movement of panic.

A large black crater is visible in these images, along with several bodies lying on the ground nearby.

The mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, quickly went to the scene: I was informed by the fire crews on Istiklal. They continue their work in coordination with the police, he said on Twitter, offering his condolences to the victims and their relatives.

In the neighboring district of Galata, many shops have lowered their curtains early. Some passers-by, who had come running from the site of the explosion, had tears in their eyes, noted an AFP journalist.

As night fell, the terraces of restaurants in this very touristy district remained partly empty.

The Turkish Audiovisual High Council (RTUK) quickly banned audiovisual media from broadcasting images of the scene, a decision justified by Presidential Communications Director and close adviser to President Erdogan, Farhettin Altun, to prevent fear, panic and unrest from spreading in society and (risking) furthering the goals of x27;terrorist organizations.

All institutions and organizations in our state are conducting a prompt, meticulous and effective investigation of the incident, he promised in a statement.

Emotion is intense in Istanbul, already hard hit in the past. Matches of major Istanbul football clubs, including Galatasaray, have been canceled.

Istiklal Street, which means Independence, in the historic district of Beyoglu, is the #x27;one of Istanbul's most famous thoroughfares, completely pedestrianized for 1.4 km. Crisscrossed by an old tram, lined with shops and restaurants, it is used by nearly 3 million people a day during the weekend.

It had already been affected, in March 2016, by a suicide attack that killed five people.

In Greece, with which Ankara maintains tense relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has unequivocally condemned terrorism and expressed its sincere condolences to the government and people of Turkey.

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