Istanbul blast toll rises to 6 killed, 81 wounded; terrorism blamed

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Nov. 13 (UPI) — The toll from an explosion in Istanbul on Sunday rose to six killed and 81 injured as the country’s vice president labeled it a terrorist act.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told reporters after visiting the blast site on Istiklal Street in the city’s popular Beyoglu district that terrorism is suspected as the cause and that a female attacker had triggered the blast.

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The explosion happened at around 4:20 p.m. local time, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya wrote in a Twitter post.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the incident “smelled like terrorism” during a press conference before leaving for Indonesia to attend the 17th G20 summit.

“The public should know that the perpetrators of this attack will be punished in the way they deserve,” he added.

The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office has appointed a team of five prosecutors to investigate the incident, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

Broadcasting about the blast was banned by state officials in the wake of the incident.

World leaders sent condolences to Turkey in the wake of the blast.

“(The) government and the people of Pakistan express deepest condolences to the brotherly people of Türkiye at the loss of precious lives and send prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Twitter.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is “deeply saddened” by the incident, adding in a tweet, “The pain of the friendly Turkish people is our pain.”

“Shocking images from Istanbul,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a Twitter post. “My thoughts and deepest condolences to all those affected & to the Turkish people”