Turkey arrests a Syrian suspect in deadly Istanbul bombing – ActionNewsJax.com | Episode Movies

ISTANBUL – (AP) – Turkish police said Monday they detained a Syrian woman with suspected links to Kurdish militants and confessed to planting a bomb that detonated on a busy pedestrian street in Istanbul, killing six people and several dozen others injured. Militant Kurds have strongly denied any connection to the bombings.

Sunday’s blast hit Istiklal Avenue, a popular thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants that leads to Taksim Square.

“Some time ago, the person who left the bomb was arrested by our Istanbul Police Department teams,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced early Monday. Police later identified the suspect as Ahlam Albashir, a Syrian citizen.

The Istanbul Police Department said videos from around 1,200 surveillance cameras were checked and raids were carried out at 21 locations. At least 46 other people were also arrested for questioning.

The suspect is said to have left the scene in a taxi after leaving TNT-type explosives on the crowded street, police said.

Sunday’s blast was a shocking reminder of the fear that gripped Turkey when such attacks were commonplace. The country was hit by a series of deadly bombings between 2015 and 2017, some by the Islamic State group, others by militant Kurds seeking greater autonomy or independence.

Police said the suspect told them during their interrogation that she had been trained as a “special intelligence officer” by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, as well as the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party group and its armed wing. She entered Turkey illegally via the Syrian border town of Afrin, the police said.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party denied involvement in a statement and said it had not targeted any civilians. In Syria, the main Kurdish militia group, the People’s Defense Units denied any links to the suspect. The group claimed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was trying to rally international support for his plans to launch a fresh incursion into northern Syria ahead of next year’s elections.

Soylu said the suspect would have fled to neighboring Greece had she not been arrested.

Earlier, Soylu said security forces believed the instructions for the attack came from Kobani, the Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria that borders Turkey. He said the attack would be avenged.

“We know what message the makers of this campaign want to convey to us. We received this message,” Soylu said. “Don’t worry, we’ll get even with them.”

Soylu also blamed the United States, claiming that a message of condolence from the White House is akin to “a murderer showing up first at a crime scene.” Turkey furious at US support for Syrian Kurdish groups

In its message, the White House said it strongly condemned the “act of violence” in Istanbul, adding: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our NATO ally (Turkey) in the fight against terrorism.”

Turkish TV footage allegedly showing the main suspect being held in a house where she is said to be hiding. Large amounts of cash, gold and a firearm were also confiscated during the search of the house.

The minister told reporters that Kurdish militants allegedly ordered the prime suspect killed to avoid evidence being traced back to them.

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said of the 81 people hospitalized in the attack, 57 have been discharged. Six of the injured are in intensive care and two of them are in critical condition, he said. The six people killed in the blast were members of three families, including children aged 9 and 15.

Funerals were held on Monday for the six victims, including Adem Topkara and his wife Elif Topkara, who had left their two young children with their aunt and were walking down Istiklal at the time of the blast.

Istiklal Avenue reopened to pedestrian traffic at 6 a.m. Monday after police completed inspections. People started leaving carnations at the site of the blast, while the street was adorned with hundreds of Turkish flags.

Mecid Bal, a 63-year-old kiosk owner, said his son was struck by the blast and called him from the scene.

“Dad, there are dead and wounded on the ground. I was devastated when I got up to run, Bal quoted him as saying.

Restaurant worker Emrah Aydinoglu was on the phone when he heard the explosion.

“I looked out the window and saw people running,” said the 22-year-old. “People were lying on the ground, visible from the street corner (I was inside). They tried to call (for help), be it an ambulance or the police. Everyone was screaming and crying.”

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK for short, has been fighting an armed uprising in Turkey since 1984. The conflict has since killed tens of thousands of people.

Both Ankara and Washington regard the PKK as a terrorist group, but differ on the question of the Syrian Kurdish groups that have been fighting ISIS in Syria.

In recent years, Erdogan has led a broad crackdown on the militants as well as Kurdish lawmakers and activists. Amid skyrocketing inflation and other economic woes, Erdogan’s anti-terror campaign is a key rallying point for him ahead of next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey.

After attacks between 2015 and 2017 that killed more than 500 civilians and security personnel, Turkey launched cross-border military operations in Syria and northern Iraq against Kurdish militants while cracking down on Kurdish politicians, journalists and activists at home.

“In almost six years we have not experienced a serious terrorist attack like the one in Istanbul last night. We are ashamed in front of our nation in this respect,” said Soylu.

Turkey’s media regulator restricted coverage of the blast on Sunday – a move that bans the use of close-ups and photos of the blast and its aftermath.

Access to Twitter and other social media sites was also restricted on Sunday.

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Suzan Fraser reported from Ankara. Robert Badendieck in Istanbul, Hogir Al Abdo in Raqqa, Syria and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this.

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