Deadly bombings: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits a police officer, who was injured in Saturday’s blasts, in a hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS
Deadly bombings: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits a police officer, who was injured in Saturday’s blasts, in a hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS

Istanbul — Turkey declared a day of national mourning on Sunday after twin bombings killed 38 people near a football stadium in Istanbul and said Kurdish militants appeared to have staged the attacks.

A car bomb detonated on Saturday outside the home stadium of football giants Besiktas after a Super Lig match between Besiktas and Bursaspor, and less than a minute later a suicide attacker blew himself up near a group of police at a park.

An offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Sunday claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had ordered flags to fly at half mast, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan postponed a planned trip to Kazakhstan, state news agency Anadolu reported.

"The target was directly the police," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told private CNN Turk. "Experts say at least 300kg-400kg of explosives had been used. There was a pit where the car detonated."

Interior Minister Suleman Soylu said 30 police, seven civilians and an unidentified person died in the blasts and 155 were injured. Thirteen people have been detained over the blasts.

"The findings point to the PKK as the authors" of the attacks, Soylu said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. A forensic team had inspected the stadium and park to collect evidence, an AFP journalist said. City workers, meanwhile, cleaned up the area.

"An act of terror targeted our security forces and citizens at Besiktas tonight," Erdogan said in a statement after the attacks. He said the blasts were timed to cause maximum loss of life.

"We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples on any form of values and morals," he said.

State broadcaster TRT showed images of the wreckage of a car engulfed in flames with emergency services swarming around the scene outside the sports venue.

Other footage showed wrecked police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast shattered the windows of nearby homes.

Besiktas is one of Istanbul’s most popular football clubs, and its fans are known for their anti-establishment views and famously played a big role in the 2013 protests against Erdogan, who was then prime minister.

Besiktas in a statement vowed to "stand firm against the vile attackers who will never achieve their goal".

The stadium is near the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce palace that houses Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s offices and is about 1km from the Taksim Square, a magnet for tourists.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg condemned the "horrific acts of terror" in Istanbul. "We stand united in solidarity with our ally Turkey. We remain determined to fight terrorism in all its forms," Stoltenberg said.

The US embassy in Turkey wrote on Twitter: "Our hearts and prayers are with the people of #Istanbul tonight."

AFP

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