Irish citizens among the injured in deadly Istanbul attack

Emergency services at the scene of an explosion, on a street, in Istanbul, Turkey.  (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Emergency services at the scene of an explosion, on a street, in Istanbul, Turkey. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

At least four people have died and dozens of others have been injured after a suicide attacker detonated a bomb on Istanbul’s main pedestrian shopping street on Saturday.

Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said the explosion occurred outside a local government office on Istiklal Street, which is also home to cafes, restaurants and foreign consulates.

Security officials seen at the site after an explosion on a street in Istanbul.  (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Security officials seen at the site after an explosion on a street in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Mr Sahin gave an initial death toll of four and later said one of the wounded victims died in the hospital.

Two government officials including the health minister put the number of fatalities at four.

Health minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu did not specify whether the bomber was among those killed but said 36 people were wounded.

His ministry said the wounded included six Israelis, two Irish citizens and one person each from Iceland, Germany, Dubai and Iran.

(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Irish minister for trade and foreign affairs Charlie Flanagan expressed his “horror and sadness” at the bombing, saying: “I am deeply saddened by today’s horrific bomb attack in central Istanbul.

“I have spoken to ambassador Brendan Ward in Turkey and can confirm that we are aware of a number of Irish citizens among the injured. An embassy official is on the ground in Istanbul to provide consular assistance.”

Turkey was already on edge following two recent suicide car bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, which were claimed by a Kurdish militant group that is an off-shoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

The most recent bombing attack, on March 13, targeted bus stops on Ankara’s busiest street, killing 37 people including two bombers.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu convened a security meeting in Istanbul following the attack.

His deputy Numan Kurtulmus said: “It is clear that some people are giving logistic support (to terrorists), that some are giving political support and that they are even providing financial support as well as arms.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A senior government official said authorities were still trying to determine who carried it out, with suspicion focusing on Kurdish militants and the Islamic State group.

Police swiftly sealed off the area as ambulances and a forensic team rushed to the scene.

Normally-packed cafes were either closed or virtually empty, with business owners making frantic calls to assure them of their safety.

“It was one loud explosion,” said Muhammed Fatur, a Syrian who works at a butcher shop near the scene of Saturday’s explosion.

“Police came to the scene and sealed off the area.”

British singer Skin wrote on Facebook said the blast went off near her Istanbul hotel and that buildings “shook like paper”.

She also expressed solidarity with the “innocent people and their families caught in this evil situation”.

An Israeli official confirmed one of the victims who died in the suicide bombing was an Israeli citizen.

Eli Bin, head of Israel’s rescue service MDA, told Channel 2 TV: “There is one Israeli killed whose family has been notified.”

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency said the Israeli citizen who died was a woman but did not provide further details.