At least 15 people have been killed and scores of others injured in a series of explosions in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.
One blast destroyed part of the HSBC Bank headquarters and a second hit a site near the British consulate. There were unconfirmed reports of other explosions in the city.
There were also conflicting reports on casualties from the explosions which accurred in crowded aress of Istanbul.
CNN Turk reported that 15 people were killed and at least 320 others injured.
However, Turkish Justice Minister Jemil Cicek said three people died in the consulate blast and two others were killed in banks explosion.
He said at least 35 people were injured in the blast, which come less than a week after two bombs exploded at synagogues in Istanbul, killing 25 people including two bombers.
“This incident is similar to the incident last week,” Cicek told reporters in Istanbul.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he had information that there were as many as five coordinated explosions in the city which were “a clearly appalling act of terrorism.”
“At this stage we can’t say who is responsible,” he said, but added the blasts bore “all the hallmarks” of the international terrorism of al Qaeda and associated groups.
Geokhan Guvens, of CNN Turk, said five people died in the first explosion in the area of the HSBC Bank, in the Levent district, and many others in the area were injured.
He said at least one person was killed in the explosion near the British consulate.
No other casualties have been confirmed.
The blasts blew the fronts off buildings, blew out windows in other properties and showered debris onto the streets.
Pictures from the mall showed people with blood on their faces, their clothes covered with dust. Cars in the streets were badly damaged.
“It’s a very, very busy area… It’s very chaotic. Nobody knows what’s happening,” said Chris Kitrinost, an English teacher who works near the British consulate. “The damage is extreme.”
“I walked by the consulate every day and I’ve been concerned because traffic has continued to drive by,” Kitrinos said. “I was worried about the proximity (to the consulate), I was afraid for myself and now, of course it’s happened.”
The British consulate was targeted in April when an explosive device was hurled at the building, the UK’s Press Association reported. No one was injured on that occasion.
The Istanbul stock exchange was closed following the blasts, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Istanbul’s governor has confirmed the identities of two Turkish men that authorities believe committed Saturday’s twin suicide attacks on the synagogues. (Full story)
Mesut Cabuk, 29, attacked the Beit Israel synagogue, and Gokhan Elaltuntas, 22, attacked Neve Shalom, Gov. Muammer Guler told a news conference Wednesday. DNA testing confirmed their identities.