The deadly bombing of a popular tourist district in Istanbul has dealt a blow to Turkey’s tourism industry as it tries to recover from the global pandemic.
The explosion was the deadliest Turkey has seen in more than five years, killing at least six people when it detonated outside a clothing store on Istiklal Avenue, near Taksim Square on Sunday evening.
Istiklal Avenue is a wide pedestrian street lined with historic buildings, shops and restaurants, and is very popular with tourists and locals alike.
The area was particularly crowded on Sunday because one of the country’s premier soccer teams was scheduled to play nearby, according to the New York Times.
Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told local media that a bag had exploded near a bench after a woman had sat there for around 40 minutes and suggested that either someone had detonated the bomb after the woman left or it exploded on its own.
Since COVID restriction began to ease, the neighbourhood, which relies heavily on tourism, had seen a strong rebound in international visitors, however, the incident has raised fears that numbers may now drop.
It had been five years since the country’s last deadly attack on New Year’s Day in 2017 when at least 39 people were killed by a gunman in a nightclub just two weeks after around 38 were killed in two explosions outside a soccer stadium.
Image: Heritage tram on Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul (iStock/Zastavkin)