38 Killed, Dozens Injured In Explosions Outside Turkish Stadium In Istanbul

A Kurdish militant group has claimed responsibility for the blasts. BuzzFeed News reporter Mike Giglio is in Istanbul.

A set of explosions outside a major sports stadium in Istanbul killed 38 people and wounded more than 160 others, officials said, in an attack that appeared to target police officers Saturday evening.

Of the 38 dead, 30 were police officers who had been near the site of the blast at the Besiktas stadium, Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told Turkish media.

"We think a vehicular bomb was set off with a handheld device in the area where our special forces were congregated," he told Hurriyet, a privately owned publication. "A couple of minutes later a suspect was identified in Macka by our security forces. They were surrounded by our police. But they set off their bomb shortly after the vehicle bomb went off."

Several gunshots could be heard after the blasts in videos that were posted on social media shortly after the suspected terror attack.

The explosions occurred near the Besiktas stadium, which had been hosting a soccer match.

A total of 166 people were wounded, Soylu said, including 23 who were in intensive care or undergoing surgery at nearby hospitals.

Ten people have been taken into custody in connection to the attacks, Soylu told Turkish reporters. Officials, however, did not say what organization or group was responsible for the explosions.

On Sunday, though, the Turkey-based Kurdish militant group Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK, claimed responsibility.

"Two of our comrades were heroically martyred in the attack," read a statement on the TAK website, according to SITE Intel Group, a website that monitors jihadist activity.

The Associated Press reported the TAK was seeking revenge for violence in Turkey's southeast and the ongoing imprisonment of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

In early statements, the Turkish government said that a car bomb targeted police officers outside the stadium who were on hand to provide security. Fans had already departed after the night's match.

"It is thought to be a car bomb at a point where our special forces police were located, right after the match at the exit where Bursaspor [team] fans exited, after the fans had left," Soylu said in comments reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency and translated by the Associated Press. "The wounded are police."

The attack was powerful enough to shake apartment buildings at least a mile away. Sirens sounded in the aftermath as fire trucks and ambulances rushed to the scene.

"You will not be able to get our people on their knees. We will crush the heads of all the traitors. May God be willing," Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli wrote on Twitter. "I wish for health for all the wounded from my God."

A media blackout was imposed following the incident, while the prime minister's office declared one day of mourning following the blasts.

In a series of tweets after the explosion, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the blasts as another terrorist attack in the country, and tried to reassure citizens they would "overcome the terror organizations, terrorists, and the powers who are behind them."

Erdoğan did not blame any specific group for the attack, saying that it did not matter which organization was behind it.

Instead, the president equated several organizations to ISIS, including the PKK and supporters of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, the leader of a religious and social movement that has been classified as a terror group in Turkey and credited with the failed military coup earlier this year.

"The name and the method of the terror organization that executed this vile attack that we've experienced many times over the last years does not matter," Erdoğan said in the tweets.

The president also tried to rally the country, but cast a somber note predicting more violence in the future.

"We have been spilling our blood for a thousand years to make these lands our homeland and we know we will keep fighting our fight, knowing that we will have to keep spilling more," he tweeted.

"We have learned with deep sadness that many police members and our citizens have been wounded in the treacherous bombing attack in front of Istanbul Besiktas Vodafone Arena," the Turkish Football Federation said in a statement. "We strongly condemn this inhuman terror attack and wish speedy recoveries to all citizens wounded in this event."

The Besiktas soccer team, which had been hosting Saturday's game, also condemned what it said was a terrorist attack. "We will stand tall against these vile men who will never reach their goals. We will hold hands as people and defend our country against these attacks," the team said in a statement.

US diplomats in Turkey also offered their condolences for the attack. "We condemn tonight's cowardly attack, and salute the courage of the Turkish people as we stand with them against terror," read a tweet by the US embassy in Ankara.

Pictures shared on social media showed smoke rising from the stadium, while the scene around the stadium appeared busy with emergency workers.

One video shared on Twitter appeared to show a huge blast in the background.

Amateur video from the moment of #Beşiktaş explosions. 😳 /via @Hilkat34 #İstanbul #Turkey

Another video appeared to show soccer officials inside the stadium giving a press conference at the moment of the blast, before fleeing for safety.

BJK TV'nin canlı yayınında #patlama anı...

Turkey has been roiled with violence at the hands of myriad forces in recent years.

ISIS has staged terror attacks in the capital and beyond, primarily targeting civilians, while the PKK — which is locked in a brutal war with the Turkish government in the restive southeast — has likewise conducted terror attacks around the country, often targeting security forces. In March, a car bomb claimed by a PKK affiliate hit a bus carrying civilians in Ankara, leaving more than 30 people dead.

The far-left DHKP-C terror group has also conducted multiple small-scale attacks.

In July, an attempted military coup, which the government blamed on conspirators loyal to the US-based Gulen, left more than 260 people dead.

Alp Ozcelik contributed to this report.

This is a developing news story. Check back for updates or follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

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