A car bomb has rocked the streets near Istanbul’s Besiktas sports stadium, killing at least 29 and injuring 166 more.
The sound of an explosion was heard on the European side of the city this evening.
The car bomb was said to have targeted a riot police bus stationed near the stadium of Istanbul’s Besiktas football club.
The blast in central Istanbul wounded at least 20 people after the end of a match between two of Turkey’s top teams, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.
Riot police officers are believed to be among the injured.
There were also reports of a second explosion close to a shopping centre near Taksim Square, in central Istanbul.
The explosion was heard after Besiktas’ 2-1 win at home against Bursaspor tonight.
TV footage showed what appeared to be the wreckage of a burned out car and two separate fires on the road outside the stadium.
Witnesses said gunfire could be heard in what appeared to have been an armed attack on police.
‘It was like hell. The flames went all the way up to the sky. I was drinking tea at the cafe next to the mosque,’ said Omer Yilmaz, who works as a cleaner at the nearby Dolmabahce mosque.
‘It is thought to be a car bomb at a point where our special forces police were located, right after the match at the exit where Bursaspor fans exited, after the fans had left.’ Soylu was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
‘We have no information on the number of dead. God willing we hope there won’t be any. The wounded are police.’
Images broadcast on television showed more than a dozen ambulances on a street hugging the stadium and a police helicopter flying overhead with its search lights on.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin had been notified, the agency said.
‘I heard two explosions, two sounds and now sirens of ambulances rushing to the scene,’ an AFP correspondent in the city said.
‘I condemn the cruel terror attack in Istanbul. Those attacking our nation’s unity and solidarity will never win,’ Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic said on Twitter.
Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan also described it as a terrorist attack.
Turkey has experienced a bloody year of militant attacks in its two biggest cities that have left dozens dead and put the country on high alert.