An Islamic State (IS) militant killed at least 10 foreign nationals, most of them Germans, and wounded 15 other people after blowing himself up at a tourist spot in Istanbul’s old city on Jan. 12.
Nabil Fadli, a 28-year-old IS militant of Saudi Arabian born in 1988, blew himself up after blending into a tourist group of 33 German citizens on a visit to the Obelisk of Theodosius in Sultanahmet Square near the Blue Mosque in the morning hours of Jan. 12 when the popular square was relatively less crowded compared to the rest of the day.
Tourist sites including the Hagia Sophia and the nearby Basilica Cistern were closed by the Istanbul Governor’s Office following the attack.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said all victims killed in the Sultanahmet suicide attack were foreigners while the suicide bomber was an IS militant.
“The suicide bomber is a foreign national, who is a member of Daesh” the PM said, referring to the Arabic acronym of IS.
Ten foreign nationals died and 15 other people, including 12 Germans, a Turk, a Peruvian and a Norwegian, were wounded in the attack.
Davutoğlu called German Chancellor Angela Merkel to express his condolences following the attack, while adding that Turkish investigators would share details of their probe with Berlin.
“The suicide bomber was identified as a Syrian born in 1988 following an inspection of a shredded body, and an investigation has been launched into those who have links to the perpetrator” said Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş at a press conference inAnkara after a security meeting headed by the Turkish premier regarding the deadly attack.
Kurtulmuş said at a separate press conference later that the perpetrator was revealed to have recently infiltrated Turkey from Syria.
Tourist guide Sibel Şatıroğlu shouted “lauft weg!” (Run away) before the attack and averted more deaths among the tourist group that was visiting the Obelisk, a historic statue erected 1,626 years ago during the Byzantine era.
Merkel called on the international community to be resolute in the fight against terrorism.
“International terrorism has once again showed itself, with its horrible and inhuman face” Merkel told a news conference in Berlin following earlier media reports that said Germans were among the victims of the blast.
“This attack also shows us the necessity to confront terrorism in a resolute way,” she said, adding that that the government was in close contact with Turkey.
“My thoughts are with the families of the victims, with those injured and we will do everything to organize help as soon as possible, in cooperation with Turkey” said the chancellor.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, meanwhile, warned the country’s citizens in Turkey to avoid crowds and tourist sites.
The attack came after three deadly terrorist acts carried out by IS militants in Turkey over the past seven months.
IS was blamed for a bomb that killed four people at a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rally in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on June 5, 2015.
An IS militant also killed 33 socialist activists on July 20, 2015, at the Amara Cultural Center in the southeastern district of Suruç.
Two IS militants then killed at least 100 people attending a peace rally in Ankara on Oct. 10, 2015, in the deadliest attack in the country’s history.
Countrywide operations against IS were purportedly intensified after the Istanbul blast. Police detained 22 alleged IS members in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa on Jan. 12. Two suspected IS members, along with two children, were also detained in Kilis, a city bordering with Syria the same day.
Former Turkish President Abdullah Gül expressed his condolences to the families of the attack’s victims and urged unity against terror.
“Our citizens should support the government and the state in all related manners and act in accordance to its demands,” Gül told reporters.
HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş extended condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives in the blast, which he called a “brutal massacre.”
“We condemn the massacre in Sultanahmet. We will not stop following [the blast] so as not to let it be left in the dark and to reveal the ones responsible,” Demirtaş said, while addressing a parliamentary group meeting of his party.