An apparent terrorist explosion rocked a busy pedestrian area in Istanbul on Sunday afternoon — leaving six people dead and dozens wounded, officials said.
Footage posted online showed ambulances, fire trucks and police at the scene of the Turkish city’s Istiklal Avenue, a popular thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants that leads to the iconic Taksim Square.
In one video, a loud bang could be heard and flames seen as pedestrians turned and ran, including parents sweeping their children up in their arms as they fled.
“I was 50, 55 meters away. Suddenly, there was the noise of an explosion. I saw three or four people on the ground,” said Cemal Denizci, 57.
“People were running in panic. The noise was huge. There was black smoke. The noise was so strong, almost deafening.”
The famed Istiklal shopping street is popular with locals and tourists.
Images and video posted on social media at the time of the explosion showed massive flames and almost immediate panic.
A large black crater was also visible in the images, as well as several bodies lying on the ground nearby.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, condemned the “vile attack” that ripped through the famed central city, an assault he said killed at least six people and wounded 53 others.
Erdogan said the attack was likely perpetuated by terrorists but that the Turkish government had yet to confirm a culprit.
“The relevant units of our state are working to find the perpetrators … behind this vile attack,” Erdogan said at a televised press conference.
“It might be wrong if we say for sure that this is terror, but according to first signs … there is a smell of terror there.”
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