Turkey’s Interior Ministry said earlier on Monday that a suspect had been detained in connection with Sunday’s explosion in Istanbul that killed at least six people and injured at least 81 others.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sunday the incident had been considered a terrorist attack, state news agency Anadolu reported.
“We believe it was a terrorist attack because an assailant who we believe to be a woman detonated the bomb,” Oktay told reporters on Sunday.
According to Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, CCTV footage showed a woman sitting on a bench for more than 40 minutes before getting up a minute or two before the explosion, leaving behind a bag or plastic bag.
Bozdag, who made the comments in an interview with the private A Haber news channel, said Turkish security forces considered the woman a suspect and officials were investigating her.
“There are two possibilities. There was a device inside that bag or plastic bag and it exploded by itself, or someone detonated it from a distance. All of these are currently under investigation,” he added.
“The woman’s name is unknown,” he said. “All recordings and data concerning the woman are being analyzed.”
Istanbul Governor Ali Yelikaya said the blast occurred on Istiklal Street in Beyoglu Square, the center of Turkey’s largest city.
“We hope God has mercy on those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to those injured,” Yerlikaya tweeted.
The six killed included Yusuf Meydan, a member of Turkey’s family and social services ministry, and his daughter Ecrin, according to Derya Yanik, Turkey’s family and social services minister.
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted late Sunday that 39 of the 81 people injured in the blast had been released from hospital after completing treatment.
“Of the 42 patients who are still hospitalized, five are still in the intensive care unit and two of them are in serious condition. We are doing our best to ensure that the injured recover as soon as possible,” Koja said.
Witness Tariq Keblaoui said he was shopping on Istiklal Street when the blast occurred about 10 meters (32.8 feet) in front of him.
“People scattered immediately,” said Keblaoui, a Lebanese journalist who was on his last day of vacation in the city.
“It wasn’t long before I could see how many people were injured on the ground,” Keblaoui told CNN. He said he saw dead bodies and seriously injured victims.
“There was a man in the shop who was bleeding from his ears and legs, and his friend was crying beside him,” Keblaoui said.
He said Independence Avenue was packed with tourists when the explosion happened Sunday afternoon.
“What went from a very calm Sunday to a very crowded street full of tourists quickly turned into the aftermath of what looked like a war zone,” Keblaoui said.
Earlier on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the blast could be terror-related, but he wasn’t sure yet.
“If we say this is absolute terror, we may be wrong, but based on the initial findings that my governors have told us, there is a smack of terror here,” Erdogan told a news conference.
He said authorities were reviewing CCTV footage.
“All those responsible will be identified and punished,” the president said.
Erdogan said he and his delegation would continue planning to attend the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Istanbul’s chief prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation, the country’s official Anadolu Agency reported. The vice president told reporters that at least eight prosecutors had been assigned.
Anadolu added that the city’s criminal court issued a broadcast ban on all video and audio news and social media sites related to the blast.
News of the explosion drew mourning from around the world.
French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country suffered a deadly terror attack exactly seven years ago, expressed sympathy for the Turkish people.
“On a day so symbolic to our country, the people of Turkey are shocked by the attack on the hearts of Istanbul as we remember the victims of November 13, 2015,” Macron tweets Sunday. “To the Turks: We share your pain. We stand with you in the fight against terrorism.”
European Council President Charles Michel expressed condolences over Sunday’s deadly bombing.
“Terrible news from Istanbul tonight,” he said. “All our thoughts are with those currently responding and the people of Turkey at this very painful time.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweets He offered his “deepest condolences” to the Turkish people, adding that NATO “stands in solidarity with our ally” Turkey.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said Sunday that the United States “strongly condemns today’s violence in Istanbul.” “Our hearts go out to those who were hurt and our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweets Or his “deep sadness” at the news of the bombing. “My condolences to the families of the victims and my wish for a speedy recovery to the injured,” Zelensky said. “The pain of the friendly Turkish people is our pain.”