Turkey’s state-owned Anatolia news agency received a statement purportedly from the Turkish group, the Islamic Front of Raiders of the Greater East (IBDA-C). It claimed responsibility for the attacks on the British consulate and the Turkish headquarters of HSBC Bank on Thursday.

 

The statement said that the bombings were a joint operation with al-Qaida.

 

“The attacks were jointly carried out by IBDA-C and al Qaida. Our attacks against Masonic circles will continue. Muslims are not alone,” Anatolia quoted the statement as saying.

 

A van stopped outside the British mission before detonating explosives, leaving a huge crater.

 

British Consul-General Roger Short, a career diplomat, was
among at least 13 killed.  

 

"We knew it was a bomb when an arm came flying through the window," said a doctor at a clinic near the HSBC bank.

 

Atrocity

 

The blasts came just five days after similar attacks on Istanbul synagogues which left 18 people killed.

 

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw flew into Istanbul late on Thursday and walked the battered grounds of his country's consulate to take a first hand look at the mayhem caused by the blast. "This is an atrocity against all our civilisations," he said.

 

British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw also met survivors

Rescuers are still searching the ruins of the British consulate in the central Beyoglu district.

 

London warned that further attacks may be attempted and warned citizens against travel to all major Turkish cities. 

 

The British Foreign Office said the targets of the bombings were "clearly selected because of their connection to Britain".

 

Alert

 

Turkey’s security forces have been placed on their highest state of alert following the  bombings.

 

Senior security officials have warned there could be more attacks, with American interests the likely target.

 

The Turkish army has deployed heavily armed troops in the streets and has stepped up security around foreign-owned businesses and diplomatic missions.

 

Reacting to the claim by the Islamist group, Turkey’s Interior Minister Abd al-Qadir Aksu said it was too early to confirm who carried out the attacks.

 

Visiting the site of the HSBC bombing, in the affluent business and retail district of Levent, Istanbul Mayor Ali Muffit Gurktuna described the attacks as a crime against humanity.

 

Coordinated attacks

 

“The aim of these incidents was to create panic and instability,” he said. “We must be determined.”

 

United States has issued a travel
warning to Turkey for its citizens

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister has vowed the country will continue its fight against “terrorism”, despite coming under increasing attack from armed groups.

 

“We will not bow down to terrorism,” said Foreign Minister Abd Allah Gül, “Everyone must know that we will not give in to terrorism.”

 

Speaking from Stockholm, where he is attending meetings with Swedish officials, Gül said the attacks appeared to have been co-ordinated and may have been linked to the synagogue bombings.

 

Six neighbouring buildings either collapsed or suffered massive structural damage in the blast. Search and rescue teams using sniffer dogs are still sifting through the rubble to locate other bodies and survivors.

 

Istanbul’s hospitals have issued urgent calls for blood donors after stocks, already depleted after Saturday's bombings  began to run out.