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Bombing suspect arrested hours after explosion killed six in Turkey, minister accuses Kurdish PKK of attack

Hours after an explosion – in a bustling street of Turkey’s Istanbul – killed at least six people, a bombing suspect has been arrested. Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu on Monday said the person is believed to have planted the bomb, according to state-run Anadolu agency. Soylu accused the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of causing the bomb attack. “According to our findings, the PKK terrorist organisation is responsible,” he was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.

Earlier, Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan said the bomb attack “smells like terrorism”. Furthermore, he and the country’s vice president, Faut Oktay, had said that a “woman” bomber was responsible for the attack. Besides six people getting killed, 81 others were wounded in Sunday’s incident when an explosion rocked the busy pedestrian street.

Video footage that surfaced online soon after the explosion showed hundreds of people fleeing the street after black smoke covered the region, as ambulances and police rushed there. The place was crowded with tourists, families and shoppers in its usual manner. Following the blast, several people were seen lying on the ground as others ran away, with parents grabbing their children in their arms.

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Authorities later informed that a Turkish government ministry worker and his daughter were among the dead. Five persons among those injured were shifted to intensive care in a hospital, with two of them being in a critical condition, news agency Reuters reported.

Erdogan told a news conference that efforts to “defeat Turkey and the Turkish people through terrorism will fail today just as they did yesterday and as they will tomorrow”. “Our people can rest assured that the culprits… will be punished as they deserve,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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Meanwhile, Anadolu reported Turkish justice minister Bekir Bozdag as saying that a woman had sat on a bench in the street for over 40 minutes before leaving minutes before the blast, implying a bomb was timed to explode or was detonated from afar. Messages of condemnations of the attack and condolences for the victims have poured in from multiple nations, including Ukraine, Britain, Italy, Egypt and Greece, among others.

No one has claimed responsibility of the attack so far. Twin bombings had hit an Istanbul soccer stadium in December 2016, in which as many as 38 people were killed and 155 injured. An offshoot of the PKK – designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the European Union (EU) – had claimed responsibility then.

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