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Istanbul Blasts Kill 29, Wound 166 ; Govt Blames Kurdish Militants

Flags were to be flown at half-mast and Sunday was declared a day of national mourning.

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Two bombs exploded less than a minute apart, killing 29 people and wounding 166 outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul on Saturday night, in a co-ordinated attack on police shortly after a match between two of Turkey's top teams.

The Turkish government on Sunday said Kurdish militants may be responsible for the two bombs, in an apparent coordinated attack on police outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul after a match between two top teams.

The blasts – a car bomb outside the Vodafone Arena home to Istanbul's Besiktas soccer team, followed by a suicide bomb attack in an adjacent park less than a minute later – shook a soccer-mad nation still trying to recover from a series of deadly bombings this year.

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Offshoot of Kurdish Militant PKK Claims Attack

An offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the attack.

The PKK has carried out a three-decade armed insurgency, mainly in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast.

In a statement on its website, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) said it had carried out the attacks. TAK had taken responsibility for other deadly attacks in Turkey this year.

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Turkey Declares Day of Mourning

The attack shook a soccer-mad nation still trying to recover from a series of deadly bombings this year in cities including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, some blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group and others claimed by Kurdish militants.

Flags were to be flown at half-mast and Sunday was declared a day of national mourning, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a planned trip to Kazakhstan, his office said. Erdogan described the blasts as a terrorist attack on police and civilians.

He said the aim of the bombings, two hours after the end of a match attended by thousands of people, had been to cause the maximum number of casualties.

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Victims Mainly Police

Two of those killed in the blasts were civilians. The other 27 were police officers, including a police chief and another senior officer.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said evidence gathered from the detonated vehicle had led to 10 arrests.

Those attacking our nation’s unity and solidarity will never win
Akif Cagatay Kilic, Sports Minister

The bombings come five months after Turkey was shaken by a failed military coup, in which more than 240 people were killed, many of them in Istanbul, as rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a bid to seize power.

Istanbul has seen several other attacks this year, including in June, when around 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded as three suspected Islamic State militants carried out a gun and bomb attack on its main Ataturk airport.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Topics:  Istanbul   Turkey Blast   Kurdish Militants 

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