ISTANBUL—A car bomb attack outside a major soccer stadium killed Turkish riot police in Istanbul on Saturday evening, adding to tensions as Turkey fights wars on two fronts, against Kurdish militants in southern Turkey and the Islamic State extremists in Syria.
Turkish authorities announced there were 29 dead and 166 wounded in the attack on a police van, which occurred after the last fans had departed the Vodafone arena following a match in Istanbul’s central Besiktas district. Of the dead, 27 were police. At least 10 suspects have been detained as of press time.
Suleyman Soylu, the Turkish interior minister, said a suicide bomb attack was launched at about the same time as the car bomb, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for either attacks, but suspicion immediately fell on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants and its affiliates, which have been fighting government forces in southern Turkey for the past 18 months.
The PKK as a practice has targeted security forces and avoided attacking civilians, whereas ISIS has readily attacked civilians and sought to cause as many deaths as possible.
ISIS is the chief suspect in two major bombings earlier this year—an attack against a wedding party in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep on Aug. 20, which left at least 30 people dead, and the June 20 bomb and gun attack at Istanbul airport, which left more than 40 dead. Meanwhile, the PKK are viewed as prime suspects in two attacks in Ankara: a suicide car bombing on March 13, in which 37 people died, and an attack on a military convoy on Feb. 17, in which 28 people died.
Turkey sent its armed forces into Syria on Aug. 24 and forced ISIS out of the border town of Jarablus, and together with moderate rebel forces is currently besieging the ISIS-occupied town of Al Bab.