Turkey

Bomb blast rocks Istanbul ahead of June general election

Reuters/Murad Sezer

At least eight people were injured in a bomb blast near a bus stop in Turkey’s main city of Istanbul as the country prepares to go to the polls in a general election on 12 June.

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The bomb exploded in Etiler, an upscale district of the city, blowing out the rear windows of a public bus and wounding passengers inside and passers-by in the street, including a policeman.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the explosion on the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK.

"It would be wrong to say anything before reaching a certain conclusion, but when we look at how the incident occurred, it becomes clear that it is related to the terror organization," said Erdogan.

Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said no one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. He added there was "a high possibility" that a time bomb had caused the blast.

Several outlawed armed groups - Kurdish, Islamist and extreme leftist - have carried out bomb attacks in Istanbul in the past.

The last incident was in October when a suicide bomber wounded 32 people in an attack on a police patrol, which was claimed by a radical Kurdish group.

Earlier this month, the PKK, which has been waging a separatist war against Ankara for 26 years, claimed responsibility for an attack on an election convoy of the ruling party in northern Turkey that killed a policeman.

The ambush was followed by a warning from jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan that "all hell will break loose" unless Turkey commits itself to full-fledged negotiations to end the conflict by 15 June.

 

 

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