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Interior minister says police have arrested ‘the person who left the bomb’ that exploded on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue.
Turkish police have arrested a suspect in the bombing in central Istanbul that left at least eight people dead and 81 others wounded, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told the news agency on Monday that the suspect in custody was the “person who left the bomb that caused the explosion” on a busy thoroughfare in Turkey’s largest city.
— ANADOLU AGENCY (@anadoluagency) November 14, 2022
Soylu blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for Sunday’s blast on Istiklal avenue, saying “Our assessment is that the order for the deadly terror attack came from Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria” where he said the group has its Syrian headquarters.
“We will retaliate against those who are responsible for this heinous terror attack,” he added.
There has been no claim of responsibility yet.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday described the explosion as “treacherous” and said it “smells like terrorism”. Speaking before his departure to the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, Erdogan said initial information suggested that a “woman had played a part” in the attack.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told A Haber television later on Sunday that the woman was seen sitting on one of the benches on Istiklal Avenue for more than 40 minutes.
The explosion occurred just minutes after she got up, he said.
“There are two possibilities,” he told A Haber. “There’s either a mechanism placed in this bag and it explodes, or someone remotely explodes [it]”.
Al Jazeera has obtained pictures of the woman suspected to be behind the bombing.
— قناة الجزيرة (@AJArabic) November 13, 2022
Sinem Koseoglu, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Turkey, said officials believe she is a member of the PKK and that two young men were also involved.
The explosion occurred at 4:20pm (13:20 GMT) on Sunday afternoon, sending debris into the air and leaving several lying on the ground.
The area had been crowded as usual, with shoppers, tourists and families.
Soylu, the interior minister, said on Monday that the death toll had risen to eight. At least five were in intensive care units, with two of them in “critical condition”, he said.
Sunday’s explosion is the first major bomb blast in Istanbul in several years.
Twin bombings outside an Istanbul soccer stadium in December 2016 killed 38 people and wounded 155 in an attack claimed by an offshoot of PKK, which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.