Thousands protest twin bombing attacks in Istanbul

Istanbul, Dec 11 (IANS) Thousands of Turks took to the streets on Sunday to denounce the twin bombing attacks that hit central Istanbul overnight and killed 38 people.

In another development, a Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks, Xinhua news agency reported.

Echoing a call by an NGO, people carrying Turkish flags gathered at the bombing sites near a football stadium in the district of Besiktas.

Some laid carnations at the sites, while others prayed for the perished.

“Everyone should be aware that Turkey has been launching a tremendous war against all kinds of terror organisations,” a man said.

The crowd chanted slogans against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) suspected of executing the attacks on Saturday night.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters in Istanbul that the attacks were “most probably” carried out by the PKK.

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, a Kurdish militant group linked to the PKK, has claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks, Turkish media said.

The group had previously took credit to some bombing attacks in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities in Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the wounded at Istanbul’s Haseki Hospital on Sunday and chaired a security meeting.

“Those who are responsible for these attacks will pay a heavier price,” the President said. “They should know that we are making all necessary investigations.”

A funeral ceremony was held for five police officers at Istanbul’s police headquarters, with the participation of the President, the Prime Minister and several ministers.

The blasts happened near the Besiktas stadium one and a half hours after a football match ended there, and were caused by a bomb car and a suicide bomber.

Thirty police officers, seven civilians and an unidentified person were among the dead, while 14 of the 155 wounded were in critical condition, top government officials said.

Turkey declared a day of national mourning on Sunday for the victims.