At least 25 people, including the British consul-general, have been killed and over 300 injured in two explosions that rocked the Turkish city of Istanbul on Thursday morning.
The blasts targeted the British consulate and the Turkish headquarters of the HSBC bank.
The British consul-general Roger Short is among the dead. He is said to have arrived at his office just a minute before the explosion occurred.
The first explosion, caused by a car bomb, destroyed the first two floors of the HSBC building and caused extensive damage to the surrounding area.
The bank building is located opposite a busy shopping mall and next to the entrance of a city metro station. The explosion took place at 10:55 am (local time) when the business and shopping district were crowded.
The second bomb, targeting the British consulate in the central district of Beyoglu, was detonated minutes later, destroying at least six buildings. It also snapped electric lines and brought down telephone links in the crowded entertainment and shopping district.
Unconfirmed reports said a green van had rammed the consulate entrance. So far, eight people are reported dead in the consulate, three of them security guards.
A van rammed the entrance of
the British consulate
The consulate is located within half a kilometre of the Neve Shalom Synagogue, one of the two targets of Saturday’s bombings. Consulate officials say that at least three of their staff are unaccounted for.
The British ambassador in Ankara was flying to the scene.
The consulate, a Victorian-era construction, was protected by high walls, one of which was blown out by the blast.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Abd al-Kadir Aksu said that security services believed there was a direct link between the latest bombings and those of Saturday.
Turkish Justice Minster Cemil Cicek spoke to reporters at 1pm (local), condemning the bombings and urging calm. “On a holy Ramadan day,” he said, “we condemn this attack.”
Healso urged reporters to heed a court ruling after Saturday’s synagogue bombs prohibiting naming of suspects, saying it hindered the investigation.
"We condemn this attack on a holy day of Ramadan"
Justice Minister, Turkey
The bombings took place a day after the last of the funerals for the 25 victims of the attacks against two Istanbul synagogues.
Turkish authorities announced on Wednesday night that they had formally charged six men with involvement in Saturday’s bombings.
They also confirmed the identity of the two bombers. All were Turkish nationals and at least two are reported to have travelled to Iran and Afghanistan in recent years.
There were reports of a third explosion in the Asian suburb of Bostanci, but police have now said that it was a hoax.
Moments after the bombings, the Istanbul stock exchange was closed after a rapid decline in the index. The Turkish lira also dropped against foreign currencies.