A Saturday-morning suicide bombing on one of central Istanbul’s busiest streets killed five people, including three Israelis, two of whom held dual citizenship with the U.S., according to Reuters. An Iranian citizen was also killed in the attack. The fifth fatality was the bomber, who the Turkish Interior Minister has announced was an ISIS-linked militant and Turkish national from a province bordering Syria. Another 36 people, as many as 24 of them foreigners, were injured as well. The bomb was detonated on İstiklal Street, an elegant pedestrian-only avenue full of shops, cafes, and government missions that is usually one of the most bustling places in Istanbul, though it has been less crowded as of late as residents have sought to avoid public spaces following three previous suicide attacks in the country this year.
The attack on Saturday was captured by CCTV cameras, as seen in the beginning of this Australian news report:
Twelve German tourists were killed in another ISIS-suspected suicide attack in Istanbul in January, and more than 100 people were killed in an ISIS-linked bombing in Ankara last October, the worst attack in the country’s history. Two other recent suicide attacks in Ankara, including one just six days before Saturday’s bombing, were claimed by an offshoot of the PKK Kurdish separatist group. Turkey was already on high alert this weekend on account of the annual Newroz holiday, which is celebrated by the country’s Kurdish minority and has in the past led to violence and demonstrations. In fact, the Turkish government banned public celebrations of the holiday in most cities this year citing security concerns, a move that could lead to even more tension between the government and the country’s Kurdish minority.
A Turkish official told Reuters that Saturday’s bomber had sought to attack a more crowded part of İstiklal Street, but was deterred by a heavier police presence there. The attack was the sixth suicide bombing in Turkey in the past year.
Haaretz has identified the three Israelis who were killed in the attack as Simcha Damari, a 60-year-old mother of four; Jonathan Shor, a 40-year-old father of two; and 69-year-old Avraham Goldman. It is not yet clear as of Sunday morning which two were also American citizens. Eleven other Israelis, including friends and family of those killed, were also injured in the attack.
Nineteen people were still hospitalized as a result of the attack on Sunday, including nine who remained in critical condition, according to the AFP. Istanbul residents were mostly remaining indoors on Sunday, and Twitter and Facebook were both being blocked by the government, according to local users.
This post has been updated throughout to reflect newly available information regarding the attack.