Female suspect ‘seen sitting on bench for 40 minutes’ and then fleeing site of Istanbul bomb among 22 arrested

14 November 2022, 08:21

A woman has been arrested over the terror attack in Istanbul
A woman has been arrested over the terror attack in Istanbul. Picture: Getty

By Daisy Stephens

A mystery woman seen sitting on a bench for 40 minutes before the deadly Istanbul explosion that killed six people including a girl and her father is among 22 people arrested in connection with the blast.

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At least six people died and a further 81 were injured when a bomb exploded on a busy shopping street in Turkey's largest city on Sunday.

CCTV images showed a female suspect sitting on a bench nearby, before fleeing minutes before the blast.

Turkey's interior minister said on Monday that police have arrested a person who is believed to have planted the bomb on Istiklal Avenue, a popular thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants that leads to the iconic Taksim Square.

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"A little while ago, the person who left the bomb was detained by our Istanbul Police Department teams," the Anadolu Agency quoted Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu as saying.

Whilst he has not confirmed the identity of the individual, it is believed to be the woman.

A further 21 people have also been detained for questioning, he said.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu giving an update on Monday
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu giving an update on Monday. Picture: Getty

Sunday's explosion was a shocking reminder of the anxiety and safety concerns that stalked the Turkish population during years when such attacks were common.

The country was hit by a string of deadly bombings between 2015 and 2017, some by the so-called Islamic State group, others by Kurdish militants who seek increased autonomy or independence.

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The minister said evidence obtained pointed to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and to its Syrian extension, the Democratic Union Party, or PYD.

He said the attack would be avenged.

"We know what message those who carried out this action want to give us. We got this message," Mr Soylu said.

"Don't worry, we will pay them back heavily in return."

Citizens leave 'carnations to condemn' a day after the deadly blast
Citizens leave 'carnations to condemn' a day after the deadly blast. Picture: Getty

Mr Soylu also blamed the United States, saying a condolence message from the White House was akin to a "killer being first to show up at a crime scene".

Turkey has been infuriated by US support to Syrian Kurdish groups.

He said security forces believe that instructions for the attack came from Kobani, the majority Kurdish city in northern Syria that borders Turkey.

In its condolence message, the White House said it strongly condemned the "act of violence" in Istanbul, adding: "We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with out Nato ally (Turkey) in countering terrorism."

Emergency personnel secure the scene yesterday
Emergency personnel secure the scene yesterday. Picture: Getty

Mr Soylu said of the 81 people who were hospitalised, 50 were discharged.

Five of the wounded were receiving emergency care and two of them were in life-threatening condition, he said.

The PKK has fought an insurgency in Turkey since 1984, with the conflict responsible for tens of thousands of deaths.

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