This morning I awoke to the devastating news of an Istanbul terrorist attack on the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, Turkey. This feels too close to home for me, as I was in Istanbul in that exact district just last summer. In fact, last summer, I actually wrote an article encouraging people to travel to Istanbul, provided that they check it is safe to do so with their government or Foreign Office. (see my article Is Istanbul Safe?)
The morning that I set off for my Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul this summer, there had been a suicide bomb attack on a Police station in Sultanbeyli (the outskirts of the city). It was a minor attack and no one was killed. It also had a specific target. There was no immediate claim for responsibility, although it has been blamed on a leftist terrorist group.
When I was in Istanbul, the tourist district of Sultanahmet was not a target. Sadly, this is no longer the case.
Terrorist Threats in Turkey
Turkey has terrorist threats from three main Kurdish militant groups who campaign for a separate state of Kurdistan…
- The far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party–Front (DHKP/C) (responsible for the detonation of a suicide vest at Sultanahmet in January 2015).
- Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) (blamed for an explosion in Istanbul’s Güngören district in 2008).
- Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) (responsible for an explosion at Taksim Square in October 2010 injuring 32 people).
For a summary of recent terrorist attacks on Istanbul please visit The Independent article on Istanbul Attacks.
For those of you who don’t know, Sultanahmet is the old town and tourist district of Istanbul. It is where the main sights of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and Topkapi Palace are situated. As soon as I heard about this attack, I wondered why any of the Kurdish terrorist groups would strike at this location and at this time. I had a gut feeling saying ‘ISIS’. This Istanbul terrorist attack was clearly aiming at tourists.
ISIS Attack on Sultanahmet District of Istanbul Today (12/01/2016)
The Guardian and CNN have just confirmed that the attack on Istanbul today was a suicide bombing caused by ISIS. There have been 10 deaths and 15 are wounded (nine of which are reported to be German and 2 Peruvian).
My hearts go out to the people of Istanbul today, and also to the people who have been affected by this attack, their families and their loved ones.
Read more in the Guardian here:
Current UK Foreign Office Advice
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently warns of a high threat from terrorism in Turkey. Attacks could be “indiscriminate” or target tourists, particularly British nationals.
“There is a high threat from terrorism.
There has been an explosion in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul on 12 January 2016. If you’re in the affected area you should follow the instructions of the local security authorities.”
As much as I love this amazing country, please be safe.
You might also like to read:
Travelling to Greece with the Looming threat of Grexit?
Travel Advice Tunisia (July 2015)