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Suicide bomber wounds 32 in central Istanbul, police say

Istanbul police say a suicide bomber blew himself up on Sunday, injuring 32. The blast occured in Taksim Square on the European side of the city. Anti-riot police might have been targeted, Turkish TV is reporting.

Taksim square and police

Police at the scene in Istanbul's Taksim Square

Thirty-two people were injured in an explosion in central Istanbul on Sunday, according to Istanbul police, when a suicide bomb ripped through one of the city's main squares.

Seventeen of the injured were civilians and 15 were policeman, Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin said.

"We think it was a suicide attack," he said, adding that none of the injured were in danger and that the only fatality was the bomber himself.

The bomber is thought to have targeted police, Capkin said, adding that he tried to force himself onto a police bus but was pushed aside before he could detonate his explosives.

NTV television said a body, believed to be that of the suicide bomber, was lying near the site of the explosion.

Police vehicles and ambulances at the scene of the attack

Police vehicles and ambulances at the scene of the attack

The blast occurred in central Taksim, a major shopping and tourist district, near a spot where riot police were on standby in case of demonstrations, Turkish television reported.

A security cordon was thrown around the area and a nearby pedestrian street was closed off.

Responsible party?

It is unclear who was behind the attack. No group has claimed responsibility.

Istanbul's governor Avni Mutlu said the bombing was the work of a "terrorist organization" but did not elaborate. He said an investigation was currently underway.

In the past, members of the separatist rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and extreme left-wing groups have carried out bomb attacks in Istanbul.

Analysts have pointed to likely PKK involvement. Their unilateral ceasefire declared on August 13 was set to end on Sunday.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid the blame on separatists. "Our unity and solidarity are the best answer to those who want to prevent progress in Turkey," he said on Sunday evening.

Taksim Square is a central gathering place for tourists as well as a busy intersection for Istanbul residents going to and from work. Had the explosion occurred during the working week, it is likely more people would have been injured.

Author: Sarah Harman, Richard Connor (AFP, Reuters, AP)
Editor: Kyle James

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