On Tuesday, the heart of Istanbul’s tourist district was struck by a suicide bomber of the Islamic State, which killed at least 10 people. This is the first major attack by the extremist group on the vital tourist industry of Turkey and ended up killing mostly Germans. Turkish authorities identified the bomber to be a Syrian citizen, who was born in 1988. According to the officials, he had approached a tourist group that had been planning to visit the Blue Mosque and other important buildings and had detonated the bomb somewhere around 10 a.m. Responsibility for the attack hadn’t been claimed immediately.
However, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Prime Minister said that the bomber had belonged to the Islamic State. Based across the Turkish border in Iraq and Syria, the Sunni Muslim militant group is trying to expand its global reach. The blast scene was thoroughly combed by the investigators whereas government officials came together for an emergency security meeting. The attack on the historic center in Istanbul is an indication of the increasing spillover from the upheaval in Syria. Last summer, the attacks connected to the Islamic State had escalated in Turkey against the Kurdish group and their sympathizers because the Kurdish militants had taken an active role in fighting against the Islamic State in Syria.
Due to the rising threat, a previously hesitant Turkey had joined hands with the military campaign led by the US against the extremist group and they had also begun their own airstrikes. The deputy prime minister of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmus said that this attack was a repercussion of the five-year long civil war that has been ongoing in Syria. Tayyip Erdogan, Presidet Recep pledged to keep the fight going. He said that Turkey was the target of numerous terrorist organizations in the area and it will continue its fight against them.
Eight of the victims of the Istanbul attack were from Germany as were nine injured. The open-door policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany in regard to Syrian refugees has been under increasing fire. According to critics, the uncontrolled migration that took place last year has left Europe vulnerable and there are great security risks. Ms. Merkel gave her condolences to the loved ones of the victims and stated that they should stay united with Turkey as they are also targets of terrorism. Television coverage was banned in Turkey as graphic images of bodies lying in the square were shared on social media.
Turkish officials and eyewitnesses said that the bomber had targeted the group of foreign tourists who had been standing near the compound of the Blue Mosque. The attack on the Turkish tourist industry could have long-lasting effects on the economy of the country and also its security because the entire industry is worth $30 billion. Analysts have said that this could lead to a strategic shift for Turkey as it is likely to come under fire and would lead to a lot of backlash for the government. It will also enhance efforts of tightening borders to prevent bombers from coming in.