Minister says 27 of those killed in twin blasts were police officers; 10 suspects arrested in connection with attacks

Twenty-nine people were killed, mainly police officers, and 166 wounded in double bombings that struck Istanbul Saturday after a home soccer match hosted by top side Besiktas, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.

Twenty-seven of those killed were police and two were civilians, he told reporters in Istanbul, adding that 10 suspects had already been detained over the bombing.

The first attack is believed to be caused by a car bomb detonated outside the football stadium on the shores of the Bosphorus while a suicide attacker struck a nearby park.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there were several fatal casualties in the twin bomb attacks.

“Unfortunately we have martyrs and wounded” as a result of the twin blasts, Erdogan said in a statement.

A Turkish emergency worker stand in front of a damaged bus on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of football club Besiktas in central Istanbul on December 10, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)

A Turkish emergency worker stand in front of a damaged bus on the site where a car bomb exploded near the stadium of football club Besiktas in central Istanbul on December 10, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)

“An act of terror targeted our security forces and citizens at Besiktas tonight,” Erdogan said. Besiktas is also the name of the neighborhood around the club’s arena.

Erdogan said the blasts shortly after the end of the match sought to cause maximum loss of life.

“We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples down any form of value and morals,” he said.

Erdogan said that “the name or the method of the terrorist organization which perpetrated the vile attack” did not matter. “Nobody should doubt that we will defeat terror, terror groups, terrorists and of course the forces behind them, with God’s help,” he said.

The fatal blast struck the area outside the Besiktas soccer team’s stadium after a match against the Bursaspor club, targeting a bus packed with police officers, Soylu said earlier on Saturday.

The two explosions hit the stadium area after fans had gone home.

“Two bombings may have taken place according to our understanding: one outside the stadium… the other at Macka Park,” Soylu told reporters in Istanbul. “The explosion at Macka Park is believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.”

“The (stadium) attack targeted the riot police’s bus,” the minister said.

Police cordoned off the area as smoke rose from behind the newly built Vodafone Arena Stadium. Witnesses also heard gunfire after the explosions.

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

The scene of an explosion of a booby-trapped car near Besiktas Stadium in Turkey on Saturday, December 10 2016. (Screen capture YouTube)

The scene of an explosion of a booby-trapped car near Besiktas Stadium in Turkey on Saturday, December 10 2016. (Screen capture YouTube)

Other footage showed severely damaged police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast had shattered the windows of several nearby homes.

An AFP correspondent near the stadium saw ambulances gathering in the aftermath of the explosion, as well as broken glass on the road.

“I heard two explosions in less than one minute, followed by sound of gunshots,” one witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Bursaspor football club said none of its fans had been injured, privately-owned NTV television reported.

Eitan Na’eh, Israel’s newly reinstated ambassador to Turkey, condemned what he described as a “hideous attack” and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said that there were no Israeli casualties in the bombing. Turkey is a popular destination for Israeli tourists; three Israelis were killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul in March.

Times Of Israel