A deadly explosion in central Istanbul on Saturday was the work of a Turkish-born member of ISIS, Turkey’s interior minister announced Sunday.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala said that Turkish authorities have identified the attacker as Mehmet Ozturk, a 24-year-old man who was a member of the Islamic State.
The blast killed four victims — three Israelis and an Iranian — in addition to the attacker.
Two of the Israeli citizens had dual citizenship with the United States. A spokesman for the National Security Council confirmed the American deaths and denounced “the evil of terrorism.”
Dozens of people were wounded in the attack, including several Israelis who have been flown back to Israel.
Daniel Estrin tells our Newscast unit that one instance of rhetoric about those injured Israelis caused some tension between Israel and Turkey. Daniel reports from Jerusalem:
“Israel has lodged a complaint with Turkey over a tweet by an official at a local office of Turkey’s ruling party. The official wrote that she hoped the wounded Israelis had died.
“Israel’s Prime Minister says he demanded steps be taken against the official. Her tweet was removed, and Turkish media said she would be expelled from the party. Israel and Turkey have been working to normalize the rocky relations between the two countries.”
As we reported yesterday, Saturday’s blast targeted Istiklal Street, a popular pedestrian area packed with shops and restaurants.
Dalia Mortada, reporting from Istanbul, tells our Newscast unit this is the second attack in Istanbul this year which was allegedly committed by a member of ISIS — an explosion in a tourist neighborhood in Istanbul killed at least 10 people in January.