Syrian ISIS suicide bomber kills 10 in Istanbul, 9 being German tourists visiting the country
ISTANBUL—A suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the heart of Istanbul’s historic district on Tuesday, killing 10 foreigners—most of them German tourists—and wounding 15 other people in the latest in a string of attacks by the Islamic extremists targeting Westerners.
The blast, just steps from the historic Blue Mosque and a former Byzantine church in the city’s storied Sultanahmet district, was the first by IS to target Turkey’s vital tourism sector, although IS militants have struck with deadly effect elsewhere in the country.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the bomber was a member of IS and pledged to battle the militant group until it no longer “remains a threat” to Turkey or the world.
Davutoglu described the assailant as a “foreign national,” and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said he was a Syrian citizen born in 1988. However, the private Dogan news agency said the bomber was Saudi-born. Kurtulmus said the attacker was believed to have recently entered Turkey from Syria and was not among a list of potential bombers wanted by Turkey.
“Turkey won’t backtrack in its struggle against Daesh by even one step,” Davutoglu said, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym. “This terror organization, the assailants and all of their connections will be found and they will receive the punishments they deserve.”
Eight Germans were among the dead and nine others were wounded, some seriously, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Berlin. The nationalities of the two others killed in the blast were not immediately released, but both were foreigners. The wounded also included citizens of Norway, Peru, South Korea and Turkey.
Turkey’s state-run news agency said Davutoglu held a telephone conversation with German chancellor Angela Merkel to express his condolences.
“I strongly condemn the terror incident that occurred in Istanbul, at the Sultanahmet Square, and which has been assessed as being an attack by a Syria-rooted suicide bomber,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Merkel pledged Germany would continue its fight against terrorism.
“Today Istanbul was the target, before Paris, Copenhagen, Tunis, and so many other areas,” she told reporters in Berlin. “International terror changes the places of its attacks but its goal is always the same—it is our free life, in free society. The terrorists are the enemies of all free people, indeed, the enemies of all humanity, whether in Syria or Turkey, in France or Germany.”
The impact of Tuesday’s attack, while not as deadly as two others last year, was particularly far-reaching because it struck at Turkey’s $30 billion tourism industry, which has already suffered from a steep decline in Russian visitors since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in November.
Its apparent links to Syria also threatened to have implications in a country that is already dealing with more than 2 million Syrian refugees and a wave of migrants from Syria and other countries pouring across Turkey to Europe.
“By striking in the heart of Istanbul’s old city, which has many … tourists, but few Turks, (IS) is targeting
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