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Explosion targets police vehicle in Turkey’s Istanbul

At least 11 people killed and several wounded in bomb attack on police bus in the central district of Beyazit. A bomb attack targeting a police vehicle in a central Istanbul district has killed at least eleven people, including seven members of the police force, the city’s governor has said.

“Seven police and four citizens lost their lives,” Vasip Sahin, Istanbul’s governor told reporters at the scene on Monday. Thirty-six people were injured, three of them seriously, he added.

Reports said the explosion took place close to the Vezneciler metro station, which is within walking distance of some of the city’s main tourist sites including the famed Suleymaniye Mosque.

Emre Rende, a freelance journalist reporting from Istanbul, said the “bus was targeted by a remotely detonated car bomb before a second blast believed to have been caused by a gas canister.”

“The attack happened close the Grand Bazaar so it might have been done to keep tourists away,” he added.

According to state-run TRT news channel, the bus was passing in the Beyazit district of Istanbul.

Pictures showed the bomb had turned the police vehicle into mangled wreckage and that nearby shops had their front windows smashed out by the force of the blast. The bombing comes during the first days of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, a time marked by dawn-to-dusk fasting and intense prayer.

Istanbul had already been hit by two bombings this year, including in tourist areas.

Both attacks were blamed on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, and a pair of attacks in Ankara that were claimed by Kurdish separatists and killed dozens.

The two attacks in Ankara were claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) – a splinter group of the better-known outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The attacks have had a dire effect on the tourism industry heading into the key summer season.

Some 1.75 million foreigners came to Turkey in April, down more than 28 percent on April 2015, the tourism ministry said in its latest release. (Al Jazeera and agencies)

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