At approximately 10:30am local time, reports started appearing on social media of an explosion in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Approximately an hour after the first reports appeared, local media reported that the blast was a suicide bombing and had targeted Sultanahmet Square, a popular tourist attraction in the city. To begin with there were no reports of fatalities from the explosion although there were reports that several people had been wounded. Soon after the reports of injuries were released, The first reports of fatalities appeared, the original death toll was claimed to be 8 but quickly rose to 10. Almost immediately following the confirmation of fatalities, the Turkish government banned coverage of the bombing and very little new information emerged.
Incredibly, one person at the site of the attack managed to capture the moment of the explosion on their mobile phone. This is the only known photograph of the attack, although there are several graphic photos and videos of victims.
The Turkish government very quickly claimed to have identified the bomber - a 28 year old Syrian - although they have not as of yet said how they identified who the attacker is so quickly. Some Turkish media appeared to try and lay the blame on the Kurdish militant group, the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) who have been conducting an insurgency against the state since the 1980s and who the Turkish armed forces have been involved in heavy fighting against in the country’s south east since September 2015. The most likely culprit, however, is the terrorist group ISIS or Daesh. Turkey are involved in the Coalition against the group and the group has threatened Turkey several times in the past, as well as carrying out attacks in the country previously.
The nationalities of the victims of the bombing have not yet been identified but it appears that there were a large group of German tourists in the area at the time. Nothing has been confirmed but Chancellor Merkel says she is ‘worried’ that Germans may be among the victims and German media report that ‘at least 9’ Germans are among the dead.
What impact this attack will have in the region is unknown at the moment, however the likely outcome is more German support for the war against ISIS, likely by supplying more arms to the KRG (Kurdistan regional government) in Iraq, supplying more air power in the coalition (mostly refuelling aircraft) or possibly by joining in airstrikes against ISIS themselves, however, this is unlikely.