At least six people were killed Sunday in a terrorist attack in a key district of Istanbul, while 81 others have been reported injured.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before leaving for the G-20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, that it was a vile attack for which the perpetrators will be discovered and punished. He also explained that that four people had died on the spot and the other two at a hospital.
A football match was also suspended due to the stadium's proximity to the site of the bombing, it was reported.
Vice President Fuat Oktay spoke of a terrorist attack and said a woman was behind it. We consider this to be a terrorist attack due to the detonation of a bomb by an assailant believed to be a woman, according to initial reports, Oktay told reporters. There are 81 wounded, of whom two are in serious condition, he added.
The bomb went off at 4.20 pm local time at a time when the crowd is particularly dense on this street where locals and tourists usually go for a stroll. Local media said it could have been a suicide attack. I was briefed by the firefighting teams on Istiklal. They are continuing their work in coordination with the police, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said on Twitter.
Videos uploaded to social media showed a large blaze and people lying in the street. A loud bang can be heard shortly before the flames are seen.
First responders were deployed to the area, where many tourist attractions are located. Istiklal Avenue, or Independence Avenue, is one of the busiest streets in the city.
The High Council of Broadcasting (RTÜK) quickly banned the media from broadcasting images of the scene to avoid sowing fear, panic, and unrest in society and serving the aims of terrorist organizations, according to Presidential Advisor Farhettin Altun. All institutions and organizations of our state conduct a quick, meticulous, and effective investigation into the incident, he said.
Access to social media was also restricted following the attack, according to freedom of speech watchdog Netblocks.
The European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrell, and NATOS's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, were among those to express their condolences.
In 2016 there were several terrorist attacks in Turkey, mostly by Islamic State jihadist group networks, in Istanbul, including one on Istiklal Avenue. But after a massacre caused by a jihadist on New Year's Eve that year in a nightclub on the banks of the Bosphorus, there were no more attacks in the city.