World leaders condemn blast on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue

World leaders condemned an explosion on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue Sunday that left at least six people dead and injured 81 others.

According to Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, the blast occurred at around 4.20 p.m. local time, with police and emergency officials cordoning off the scene.

“It smells like terrorism,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference before leaving for a G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Later visiting the blast site, Vice President Fuat Oktay said it was considered to be a terrorist attack, adding that a female attacker detonated the bomb that caused the blast.

“I have learned with deep anguish about the explosion at Istiklal Avenue in the heart of Istanbul,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Twitter.

“(The) government and the people of Pakistan express deepest condolences to the brotherly people of Türkiye at the loss of precious lives and send prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured,” he added.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said in a statement that Baku is “deeply shocked” by the news, adding: “I extend my deep condolences to you, families and loved ones of those who were killed, and the brotherly people of Türkiye, and wish the injured recovery.”

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson was “deeply shocked by the news of today’s explosion in the heart of Istanbul.”

“Our thoughts are with the victims, and with all those who have lost their loved ones. We stand with Türkiye,” he said on Twitter.

For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that he is “deeply saddened” by the news and extended condolences to the victims, and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

“The pain of the friendly Turkish people is our pain,” Zelenkskyy added.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the incident shook not only the residents of Istanbul, but the entire world.

Messages of condolence were also sent by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, President of the European Council Charles Michel, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

“Shocked and saddened by the news of the explosion in Istanbul, Türkiye this afternoon which resulted in numerous casualties,” North Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said. “My deepest condolences to victims’ families and their loved ones. Sincere wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “Shocking images from Istanbul. My thoughts and deepest condolences to all those affected & to the Turkish people. #NATO stands in solidarity with our Ally Türkiye.”

The foreign ministries of Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, India, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece also expressed condolences.

The Gulf Cooperation Council and President of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska entity Milorad Dodik also condemned the attack.

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