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Explosions In Istanbul Near Besiktas’ Vodafone Arena Leave 29 Dead

Vodafone Arena – credit ESPNFC.COM

(ESPNFC.COM) Two bombs exploded outside Besiktas’ stadium after fans had gone home Saturday night, killing 29 people and wounding 166 others.

The twin explosions inflicted high casualties among police, killing 27 officers as well as two civilians. One of the blasts was thought to be a car bomb, and the second appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomber.

Bursaspor said none of the wounded were fans and issued a statement saying “we wish a speedy recovery to our wounded citizens.”

Besiktas released a statement condemning “the terrorists … who attacked our heroic security forces, who provided security for both our supporters and those of our visitors Bursaspor.”

Police cordoned off the area as smoke rose from near the newly built Vodafone Arena. Witnesses said gunfire could be heard as well.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who gave an initial wounded toll of 20 police officers, rushed from Ankara to Istanbul. In an address early Sunday, the minister said 10 people had been arrested in connection with the attacks.

The private NTV channel, which earlier had reported more than 70 people were taken to hospitals, said the target of the attack was a bus for riot police.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement saying “unfortunately we have martyrs and wounded” but did not specify the number.

“We have once again witnessed tonight in Istanbul the ugly face of terror, which tramples on every value and decency,” Erdogan said.

The first and larger explosion occurred at about 10:30 p.m. after the home team Besiktas beat visitors Bursaspor 2-1 in the Turkish Super League. The blast was followed by a second one in Macka Park near the stadium, which was being treated as a suicide bomb, Soylu said.

“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 earlier Saturday night.

Soylu said the explosion took place on a hill adjacent to and overlooking the stadium. Television images showed more than a dozen ambulances on a street hugging the stadium and a police helicopter flying overhead with its searchlights on. The window glass of nearby buildings was shattered by the blasts and coated the pavement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. This year, Istanbul has witnessed bombings attributed by authorities to the Islamic State group or claimed by Kurdish militants.

“We hope that the citizens who were wounded in the attack will have a speedy recovery and that no greater suffering will be experienced,” Besiktas’ statement added. “We condemn violence and hatred.”

The Turkish football association expressed its “tremendous sorrow” at the injuries and condemned the “inhuman brutal terrorist attack.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin also made a statement condemning the attack.

In March, the father of Galatasaray’s Turkey international Umut Bulut was among at least 37 killed when a car bomb exploded in Ankara, about 350 kilometres from Istanbul.

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