An explosion believed to have been caused by a suicide bomber has hit the popular Istiklal Street in central Istanbul’s Taksim square area. Government officials said at least five people were killed and 36 were injured – seven seriously – in Saturday morning’s explosion.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that at least two Israeli nationals were killed in the blast. Two American nationals have also been killed while Iran said that one of its citizens had also died. It was not immediately clear if the two Americans had dual citizenship or were additional fatalities. “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack in Istanbul, Turkey,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
The suspected suicide bomber is also believed to have been killed. Twenty four foreign citizens were among the wounded, including 11 Israelis. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the blast was “inhumane” and would not stop Turkey, which has been targeted by Kurdish rebels and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in recent months, from fighting “centres of terrorism”.
Footage from the scene showed police and emergency services cordoning off the street, which has been completely cleared of people. Witnesses told Al Jazeera that hundreds of people ran in panic away from the site of the explosion, moments after the incident. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.