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Eyewitnesses of Istanbul bomb tell of panic - PHOTOS

01 November 2010 [11:25] - TODAY.AZ
A suicide bomb that rocked Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Sunday morning caused widespread panic among people that later turned to anger as people in the city began to take stock of the attack. Both pedestrians walking through the square at the time of the incident and people enjoying the mid-morning sun from the cafes and shops ringing the square had the same immediate reaction: fear.

The blast, which occurred sometime after 10 a.m., turned Istanbul’s main entertainment district into chaos, with pieces of bloody flesh scattered around from the suicide bomber, voices of injured people screaming for help and dust clouds obscuring people’s vision, according to eyewitness accounts.

A Talimhane grocery store owner who witnessed the attack said he was outside his shop giving directions to a tourist when the blast happened. An intense sound came from behind the Roma flower sellers on the cross street, said the store owner, who declined to give his name. People with faces covered with blood began to run hectically in front of his store.

“Terror is not just an event that happens in the mountains any more; it has descended into the city centers. I believe this blast was purposefully planned for today because the cease-fire of the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party], is ending,” said the storeowner.

After police teams and paramedics responded, injured people were taken to nearby hospitals and the scene of the accident was cordoned off by security teams.

The closest hospital, Taksim Hospital, was flooded with wounded people. The patients’ relatives, shocked by the blast, attempted to comfort their loved ones, but were themselves dazed by the attack.

Declining to comment on what happened, the patients’ relatives, in tears, told reporters, “Let us alone, don’t you see our miserable situation?”

Curious citizens observing the situation in the hospital’s garden were sent away by hospital security as ambulances with more wounded victims arrived.

The most seriously injured were transported to hospitals including Istanbul Şişli Etfal, Okmeydanı, and the German Hospital.

Muzaffer Arslan and Halil Keskinbıçak, two injuried police officers, were sent to Şişli Etfal Hospital and were visited by their concerned colleagues, who lined up outside the hospital to donate blood.

Keskinbıçak was reportedly injured in his chest and was admitted to the intensive care unit, while Arslan’s feet were injured.

After arriving at the hospital to see her son, Ayşe Arslan felt faint and was taken outside for some fresh air. “I’m feeling everything a mother goes through in such a situation,” said Arslan.

She said her son, who recently married, was incredibly lucky to have escaped worse injuries.

Questions of responsibility

“Killing people on a Sunday morning is an inhumane action. I curse the ones who organized this. What a shame to the ones supporting them by talking on television programs,” said 56-year-old bystander Hakan Demirci, referring to the PKK.

People were not exactly sure about the organization responsible for the suicide attack, as no official claim of responsibility had been made as the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press late Sunday.

A taxi driver who witnessed the incident said al-Qaeda might be responsible. “Al-Qaeda representatives were saying on TV that Turkey should watch its step as it has become too close to the West,” said Hüseyin Baygören.

/Hurriyet Daily News/

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