Possible car, suicide bombings outside Turkey soccer stadium wound 20 police officers in targeted attack

ISTANBUL — Two explosions Saturday night outside a major stadium in Istanbul after fans had gone home, an attack that about 20 officers, said. One of the blasts was to be a car bomb and the appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomber.

Police cordoned off the area as smoke rose from behind the newly built Vodafone Arena Stadium, known colloquially as Besiktas Stadium after the local team and neighbourhood. Witnesses also heard gunfire after the explosions.

The first and larger about 10:30 p.m. after the home team Besiktas beat visitor Bursaspor 2-1 in the Turkish Super League.

AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal
AP Photo/Halit Onur SandalPolice officers and ambulances fill the street next to the Besiktas football club stadium, in Istanbul, late Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. Two loud explosions have been heard near the newly built soccer stadium and witnesses at the scene said gunfire could be heard in what appeared to have been an armed attack on police.Turkish authorities have banned distribution of images relating to the Istanbul explosions within Turkey.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who gave the casualty toll and said the wounded were police officers, rushed from Ankara to Istanbul.

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.

“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.”

Speaking later to reporters in Istanbul, he said the first explosion took place on a hill adjacent to and overlooking the stadium. The second explosion struck Macka Park and was believed to be a suicide bomb.

The private NTV channel said the target of the first attack was a bus for riot police.

OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images
OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty ImagesA Turkish emergency worker stand in front of a damaged bus on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of in central Istanbul on December 10, 2016. The car bomb exploded in the heart of Istanbul on late December 10, wounding around 20 police officers, Turkey's interior minister said, quoted by the official Anadolu news agency. The bomb, apparently targeting a bus carrying police officers, exploded outside the stadium of Istanbul following its match against Bursaspor.

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. Investigators, including Istanbul Police Chief Mustafa Caliskan, were quickly on the scene.

The Besiktas sports club “strongly condemned” terrorism and the attack in a statement posted on its website.

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

Turkey’s radio and television board issued a temporary coverage ban citing national security concerns. It said “to avoid broadcasts that can result in public fear, panic or chaos, or that will serve the aims of terrorist organizations.”

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Istanbul Governor were also notified about the attack, Anadolu said.

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