Deadly Explosion Rocks Istanbul's Sultanahmet Square

Jan 12, 2016
Originally published on January 12, 2016 8:21 am
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Let's go right to assemble now. With a deadly explosion there this morning. It happened one of Turkey's most famous tourist neighborhoods not far from the blue Mosque. Turkish officials say the death toll as of right now 10. Is Peter Kenyon went to the area of the explosion shortly after it occurred. And he is on the line. And Peter tell us what we know at this point.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Well this morning I was at home and I heard the explosion. And didn't recognize it for an explosion at the time. It's a really when the blustery day here. And at first I thought something big had toppled over. But quickly the news spread from Sultan that is the neighborhood where the tourist landmarks are. And that is what happened. I got to the scene. The police had cordoned off the blast site. But evidence wasn't showing up hundreds of yards away. A shop owner restaurant worker told showed me some shrapnel that had landed at his feet at least 200 yards from the scene. Then I ran into Johnny Green. Is a Briton who says he had stepped out of the blue Mosque with two friends seconds before the blast happened. Here is how he described the moment of the last.

JOHNNY GREEN: We had come out of the blue Mosque and for working on to this Boulevard. We were just around the corner -- out of sight so we heard it rather than saw. That people were just you know running in every direction. Some people were running towards the action to help. And other people were just playing. So it was very much that. We were sort of caught between a rock and a hard place.

KENYON: Green is actually a photojournalist. He was on his way to Africa on another project I decided to stop in and see the mosque during his layover. He told his two friends we will certainly remember his stopover.

GREENE: I can imagine. This is an area Peter we should savor there are a lot of Western tourists gathered quite often. It makes me wonder if tourists if Westerners have been targeted and of course also who was responsible here.

KENYON: Yet this is the heart of Istanbul's very busy tourist sector the mosque the this this palace. Is always got tourists around. Nothing in January to July -- but still. And in terms of responsibility there is no claim have to taxpayer with a double suicide bombing in October and on a Turk and a Syrian who had both been influenced by ice as we were told. There was an explosion at the second airport here in Istanbul. There have been some questions of whether that was Kurdish related. But basically folks here in Istanbul have been on it for weeks wondering if something was going to blow up here.

GREENE: On rate will be flowing this closely. Better therapeutic speaking to us from his double for an explosion at a popular tourist area has killed at least 10 people. Peter thank you.

KENYON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.