Istanbul: 29 killed, 166 injured in twin explosions outside football stadium

Istanbul: 29 killed, 166 injured in twin explosions outside football stadium

Istanbul (Reuters): Twin bombs exploded less than a minute apart outside a football stadium in Istanbul on Saturday night, killing 29 people and injuring 166, in a coordinated attack on police immediately after a match between two of Turkey´s top teams.

First a car bomb exploded outside the Vodafone Arena, home to Istanbul´s Besiktas football team, leaving flaming wreckage on the street.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told a news conference that a suspect wearing explosives detonated himself forty-five seconds later while surrounded by police in an adjacent park.

President Tayyip Erdogan stated the explosions as a terrorist attack on police and civilians.

He said the aim of the bombings had been to cause the maximum score of casualties about two hours after the end of a match attended by thousands of people.

He said in a statement "Nobody should doubt that with God´s will, we as a country and a nation will overcome terror, terrorist organizations ... and the forces behind them."

The attack shook a football-mad nation still trying to recover from a series of deadly bombings this year in cities including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, some blamed on the Daesh group and others claimed by Kurdish militants.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

But the blasts came less than a week after Daesh urged its supporters to target Turkey´s "security, military, economic and media establishment".

Omer Yilmaz, who works as a cleaner at the nearby Dolmabahce mosque, directly across the road from the stadium said, "It was like hell. The flames went all the way up to the sky. I was drinking tea at the cafe next to the mosque."

He told Reuters, "People ducked under the tables, women began crying. Football fans drinking tea at the cafe sought shelter, it was horrible."

Turkey is a member of the NATO military alliance and part of the US-led coalition against Daesh.

It launched a military incursion into Syria in August against the radical Islamist group. It is also fighting a Kurdish militant insurgency in its own southeast.

The bombings come five months after Turkey was shaken by a failed military coup, in which more than 240 people were killed, many of them in Istanbul, as rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a bid to seize power.

Istanbul has seen several other attacks this year, including in June, when around 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded as three suspected Daesh militants carried out a gun and bomb attack on its main Ataturk airport.