February 18, 2020

3 Israelis said killed, at least 11 hurt in Istanbul suicide blast

Three Israelis were among the five people killed in a suicide bombing at a main shopping center in Istanbul, Turkish officials said.

At least 11 Israelis were among the 36 people who were wounded in the blast Saturday. The fourth fatality was an Iranian national and the fifth was the suicide bomber, according to Turkish daily Hurriyet.

Turkish Deputy Health Minister Ahmet Baha Ogutken confirmed in a statement to the Daily Sabah newspaper that an Israeli woman was killed in the explosion. Eli Bin, head of Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue services, also confirmed to Israel’s Channel 2 that “there is one Israeli killed whose family has been notified.”

The Israeli victims were part of a 14-member tour group, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The ministry feared two or three Israelis were among the dead, but declined to confirm reports of Israelis killed in the attack, according to The Times of Israel.

“We fear for the lives of three Israelis who were hurt in the attack,” ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said on Saturday afternoon.

Two Israelis injured in the blast were seriously hurt. One was undergoing surgery in an Istanbul hospital, Channel 2 reported.

The explosion rocked Istiklal Avenue in the heart of the Turkish city, a wide pedestrian boulevard with a historic tram running down the middle and lined with international stores and foreign consulates. Police sealed off the street after the attack and ambulances carried the injured away.

Turkish media identified the suicide bomber as Savaz Yildiz, 33, from the Turkish city of Adana, saying he was known to Turkish authorities.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. But Turkish officials pointed to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, fighting for Kurdish autonomy in the southeast, or to Islamic State.

A CCTV camera appears to have captured the blast, and the footage was posted online by the private Dogan news agency.