ISTANBUL: A suicide blast ripped through a top shopping district in Istanbul on Saturday, killing at least four people and injuring dozens, the second attack in the heart of Turkey’s major cities in a week.
The sixth major bombing since July targeted Istiklal Caddesi, a bustling pedestrian street usually thronged with shoppers, tourists and buskers but which was still relatively quiet when the bomber struck at around 11:00 am (0900 GMT).
Turkish media said three Israelis and one Iranian were killed, while two of the Israelis were also named by Washington as US citizens.
CCTV footage circulated by Turkish media showed the alleged bomber wearing a long coat approaching a small group of people outside a local government building directly before the blast.
Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said the building appeared to be the intended target, and a Western diplomatic source said the attacker may also have had tourists in his sights.
A waiter working in a nearby restaurant, who only gave his first name, Mustafa, told Agence France-Presse he heard “a loud explosion.”
“When I came out, people were running in every direction, but I ran towards the blast site to see what happened,” he said, describing scenes of “carnage” with “people lying all about.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but pro-government media blamed it on the Islamic State (IS) group, which has been accused of several attacks in Turkey including a deadly suicide bombing near the Blue Mosque in January.
Several media outlets named the alleged perpetrator of Saturday’s attack as Savas Yildiz, a 33-year-old Turkish radical.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to track down those responsible, while NATO allies the US and Europe said they stood by Turkey.
“We will fight with determination and perseverance until all forms of terrorism are eradicated,” Davutoglu said.
Deputy health minister Ahmet Baha Otuken named an Israeli woman, Simha Demri, as one of the victims.
The CNN-Turk channel said 31-year-old Iranian Ali Riza Khalman was killed along with two other Israelis — Yonathan Suher, 40 and Avraham Goldman, 70. They were also named as US citizens by the State Department.
Of the 36 injured, Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said 12 were foreigners. Six were Israelis, two were Irish and the four others from Germany, Iceland, Iran and Dubai, his office said.