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Bomb Attack Targets Police Vehicle in Istanbul; 11 Killed | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police walk near a Turkish police bus which was targeted in a bomb attack in a central Istanbul district, Turkey, June 7, 2016. Reuters

A car bomb exploded in central Istanbul during the morning rush hour on Tuesday, wrecking a passing police bus near the main tourism district, news channel Haberturk reported.

A parked car packed with explosives was detonated by remote control as the police bus drove by the central Istanbul district of Vezneciler, CNN Turk said.

It broadcast cell-phone footage of a blackened and mangled vehicle on the street as vendors peered out from a souvenir shop in a district nea;[p36 people and killed 11, seven of them police officers, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin told reporters near the scene.

The blast occurred at a busy intersection near an Istanbul University building in the city’s Beyazit district during the morning rush hour. The state-run Anadolu Agency said several ambulances were sent to the scene.

The police bus was overturned from the force of the blast which also damaged nearby buildings, including a hotel whose entrance appeared gutted and windows were blown out. Several cars were also wrecked.

There was no immediate responsibility claim.

The rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, have been targeting police and military personnel with bombs since July, when a fragile peace process between the rebels and the government collapsed. The ISIS group has also been blamed for a series of deadly bombings in Turkey.

An estimated 500 Turkish security personnel have been killed in attacks or in conflict with the Kurdish rebels, according to the military, which claims to have killed 4,900 PKK militants in operations in Turkey /and northern Iraq, where the group has a major bastion. Turkish warplanes regularly raid PKK bases in northern Iraq.

Limited access to conflict areas in the southeast has made it difficult to verify casualty figures.

The PKK is fighting for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds in the southeast of the country. The decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state in a conflict that has claimed 40,000 lives. The group is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its allies.

Last month, eight people were wounded in Istanbul after car bomb similarly targeted a military vehicle near the entrance of a garrison as the evening rush hour began.