Istanbul suicide bomber ‘was ISIS militant’: Turkish PM

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Police officers secured the historic central Sultanahmet district in Istanbul after a deadly suicide attacked on Jan. 12, 2016. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, can be seen in the background. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

ISTANBUL – The Istanbul suicide bombing that left 10 people dead, mostly Germans, was carried out by a militant from the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday.

“We have determined that the perpetrator of the attack is a foreigner who is a member of Daesh,” Davutoglu said in Ankara, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Germany’s foreign minister says eight Germans are among the dead in an Istanbul bombing and nine others are wounded, some seriously.

A Turkish official had earlier said that nine Germans had died. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier confirmed the bomber was a Syrian.

“I strongly condemn the terror attack which was carried out by a suicide bomber of Syrian origin,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara in his first reaction to the blast.

“Unfortunately… there are fatalities, including locals and foreigners. This incident showed again we have to stand together in the face of terror.”

“Turkey’s determined position will not change. We don’t make any difference between the names or abbreviations (of terror groups).”

“The first target of all the terror groups active in this region is Turkey. Because Turkey fights them all with the same determination,” he added.

Turkey has been on high alert after a series of attacks blamed on ISIS including a double suicide bombing in the capital Ankara in October that left 103 people dead. Turkish authorities have in recent weeks detained several suspected ISIS members with officials saying they were planning attacks in Istanbul.

But Turkey is also waging an all-out assault on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which Ankara and its Western allies classify as a terror group.

Investigations were being conducted into the type of explosive which caused the Istanbul blast and those responsible, the governor’s office statement said.

Turkish police sealed off the square as ambulances rushed to the scene of the explosion.

Sultanahmet square, close to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, in a major tourist area of Turkey’s most populous city.

According to the initial unconfirmed reports from state-run television TRT based on eyewitnesses, the explosion was allegedly caused by a suicide bomber. Police forces have reportedly found mechanical parts in the area that further confirm the use of suicide bomber tactics.

In reaction, Russia’s foreign minister said that Tuesday’s deadly bomb attack confirms the need for countries to urgently join forces to battle terrorism.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday condemned the suicide bomb attack in Istanbul, calling it a “despicable crime” and said the perpetrators must face justice.

Agencies

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