Istanbul’s renowned pedestrian thoroughfare Istiklal Street is back to normal after Sunday’s attack by the PKK/YPG terrorist group, while the country strives to recover from the tragedy that claimed at least six lives.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that 58 among 81 people injured in the attack were discharged from hospitals after their treatment, while 23 others, including six in intensive care, were still undergoing treatment.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced that the number of people detained in connection with the bombing rose to 50 – which was cited as 46 by the authorities previously.
Turkish media outlets reported that among the newly detained suspects were the key figures involved in the terrorist attack. Among them were two brothers who were accused of smuggling PKK members into Türkiye and trying to help the escape of B.H. – a suspect accused of giving TNT explosives used in the attack to the prime suspect identified as A.A.
The prime suspect is a PKK/YPG member who planted the bomb on Istiklal Street on Sunday.
A.A., identified via security camera footage showing her fleeing the scene moments before the explosion, was captured at her house in Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece district where she was hiding. The suspect, who is a Syrian national, had reportedly snuck into Türkiye some four months ago and posed as a worker at a textile workshop in Istanbul’s Esenler district.
A.A. had confessed that she was instructed by senior cadres of the PKK/YPG in Syria’s Ain al-Arab (Kobani) to carry out the attack. Other detainees included some workers at the workshop where the suspect worked and spent more time than at her own residence.
The investigation revealed that the two suspects, including one brother identified as A.J., drove A.A. and the fugitive suspect B.H. to the Beyoğlu district on the day of the attack, near Taksim Square where Istiklal Street is located.
After a while, two men, including B.H., drove back to Esenler. According to their devised plan, A.A. called Y.K., one of the two men who took her to Istiklal after the attack, to give her a ride back. However, Y.K. apparently could not make it, citing heavy police presence.
For this reason, A.A. took a taxi ride, first to Esenler where she met one of the two brothers who helped her enter Türkiye. He later took her to Küçükçekmece. He was also planning to help her escape to Greece, according to investigators, before police raided the residence. However, he wasn't present at the house during the police raid.
Meanwhile, A.J., who took B.H. to the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne with the purpose of helping him flee to Bulgaria, was detained in Istanbul. Media outlets reported that the two brothers had criminal records, including charges of smuggling illegal immigrants, and one of them has also arranged the escape of PKK members into other countries via Türkiye.
On Monday, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told reporters that they had also captured the suspect's handler, "who ordered her to carry out the attack," adding there were more operations underway in connection with the attack.
According to details shared by Istanbul police, the suspect was directly ordered by senior terrorists in Ain Al-Arabi (Kobani) – a Syrian town where the PKK/YPG dominates. Police scanned some 1,200 security cameras to determine the route of the suspect.
During the initial interrogation, the suspect admitted she was trained by the PKK/YPG as an "intelligence agent" and entered Türkiye through Afrin, Syria, to carry out the attack.