Two explosions on a busy shopping street in Istanbul killed at least 13 people and injured about 70 others, according to the city governor. On Sunday evening, the first device exploded by a telephone booth in a residential Gungoren district, and about 10 minutes later, a second bomb went off a few metres away.
Suggestions were made by earlier local media reports that the blasts had been caused by a gas leak.
The explosions were described as a “terror attack” by Muammer Guler, the governor of Istanbul, who said that “the blasts occurred in a very busy district and this raised the casualties. Thirteen citizens lost their lives in this heinous attack”.
At least 12 people could be seen lying on the ground, said an Associated Press news agency reporter at the scene.
“The first explosion was not very strong”, said Huseyin Senturk, who owns a shoe shop in the area. “Several people came to see what was going on. That’s when the second explosion occured and it injured many onlookers.”
While broken glass and debris was strewn all over the area, several wounded people lying on the ground waiting to be treated were showed on a TV footage.
“Tens of people were scattered around. People’s heads, arms, were flying in the air”, one witness told the Reuters news agency.
Around 25 people were being treated, said a nearby hospital, with three of them in serious condition.
It is too early to speculate about who carried out the attack, said Mr Guler, adding that officials will study surveillance cameras from the area as part of the investigation.
The attack could have possibly been carried out by a number of groups, Jody Sabral, a local journalist, told Al Jazeera.
“The PKK, a Kurdish militant group, for example have been known to use packet bombs in civilian areas. And also, more recently, Turkey has been the target of al-Qaeda militants who are known to have cells here, but it is really too early to say right now”, she said.
The PKK has been blamed for a number of attacks in Istanbul in the past, because since 1984, the group has been fighting for independence or greater autonomy for the Kurdish-majority southeast region of the country.