Burak Kara/Getty Images
ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkish authorities claim to have identified the author of Sunday explosion in Istanbul’s best-known shopping street which killed at least six people and injured 81 others.
Istanbul police released a statement on their official Twitter account saying the suicide bomber had been identified as a Syrian woman named Ahlam Albashir.
The statement said that during interrogation, the woman admitted to receiving her orders from the PYD, the Syrian Democratic Union Party, which Turkey considers to be the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group that Turkey has been fighting for decades.
The statement goes on to say that 46 other people were also arrested for questioning about any possible role they may have played in the attack.
The PKK denied any involvement in the attack and said it was not attacking civilians, in a statement.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu briefed reporters on the latest developments, including the capture and detention of the suicide bomber.
In his remarks, Soylu condemned countries that he believes harbor terrorist groups. He specifically named the United States, saying receiving a message of condolence from Washington was like “a killer being the first to show up at a crime scene.” The United States has backed Kurdish groups in Syria for the past decade as they battle Islamic State, which has long been a source of contention with Turkey.
Turkey also condemned Sweden for allegedly supporting terrorist groups.
A return to more dangerous times
For some Istanbul residents, Sunday’s explosion brought to mind more dangerous times in the recent past.
Store owner Hasan Ozsut, who estimates he was around 500 meters from the blast at the time of the blast, said he saw around four people lying on the ground and many others running.
Ozsut is a dairy farmer who sells his products in a store on Istiklal Avenue. He believes his store was very close to the site of the blast and would like to check on the damage, but was prevented from reaching the scene on Sunday as police, firefighters and ambulances descended on the scene.
The 60-year-old says he is proud to be a shopkeeper on Istiklal Avenue, which he considers the heart of Istanbul. But he knows that whenever something like this happens, people naturally stay away for a while.
As the holiday season approaches, he wonders if this season will be bad for business.
Usually, he says, “People go Christmas shopping, they’re going to come here, you know, Christmas sightseeing. It’s actually a bomb for [the] Turkish economy.
Oszut and other Istanbul residents see Sunday’s explosion as an echo of previous terror attacks in the city.
On New Year’s Day in 2017, a gunman shot and killed 39 people in a nightclub. Nearly 80 other people were also injured. In 2003, a series of suicide bombings were carried out using trucks at four locations in the city.
The United States condemned the explosion, describing it as an act of violence in a statement released by the White House Press Secretary.
“We stand alongside our NATO ally,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in the statement.
Five prosecutors have been assigned to investigate the blast, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Turkey’s interior minister reiterated Erdogan’s pledge to bring those responsible to justice – and to strike a blow against those who engage in terrorism against the country and its citizens.