Turkish Marxist group claims responsibility for Istanbul suicide attack
An outlawed Turkish Marxist group on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a strike by a female suicide bomber on the heart of Istanbul's tourist district, raising fears of a wave of radical attacks one week after it hit police guarding a palace in the city.
The female bomber, a young woman in her 20s, killed herself and a policeman early Tuesday evening after walking into the police station in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district, home to the city's greatest concentration of historical monuments.
Posing as a tourist who had lost her wallet, she blew herself up after police shot her in the leg after they became suspicious, officials said. One other police officer was lightly injured.
The Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) said in a statement on its website "our sacrificial fighter... carried out the sacrificial action on the tourist police department in Sultanahmet."
Sultanahmet is home to some of Turkey's top attractions including the Aga Sophia museum and the Blue Mosque and is thronged by thousands of tourists each day.
The DHKP-C -- a radical Marxist organisation considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States -- had also last week claimed a January 1 attempted grenade attack on police guarding the Dolmabahce palace in Istanbul that caused no serious casualties.
It said that Tuesday's bombing was aimed at "bringing to account" the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) co-founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over corruption following a ruling the day earlier that four former ministers accused of graft will not stand trial.
As after the January 1 attack, the DHKP-C also said the bombing was a reprisal for the death of Berkin Elvan, a teenager who died in March 2014 after spending 269 days in a coma due to injuries inflicted by the police in the mass anti-government protests of May-June 2013.
"It (the attack) happened because the four former ministers, the thieves, escaped prosecution. It happened because nothing has been done to bring justice for Berkin," the group said.
"We will continue to resist, fight and attack. We will take up arms and attack. Wait and see," it added.
The DHKP-C named the suicide attacker as Elif Sultan Kalsen, who according to Turkish media was a woman her mid-20s and an active member of the group.
The dead policeman, named as Kenan Kumas, was a former physics teacher from the Black Sea city of Trabzon who had been working for the Istanbul police for five years.
Turkish media said his wife only two months ago had given birth to a daughter, who like the bomber was also called Elif.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had Tuesday praised the police, saying their bravery had prevented an even higher death toll.
The female bomber was carrying two more charges that did not go off. These were later detonated in controlled blasts by bomb disposal experts.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said that the "heinous terror attack" was aimed at hurting the "new Turkey" that Erdogan is seeking to build as president.
"But they won't succeed. They won't be able to destroy our brotherhood and unity," he wrote on Twitter.
The DHKP-C in the 1980s and 1990s carried out a string of targeted assassinations aimed at foreigners and Turkish security personnel.
But in recent years is has turned to suicide bombings. It claimed a suicide bombing in February 2013 at the US embassy in Ankara where a security guard was killed.
In the January 1 attack outside the Dolmabahce palace, the attacker, named as Firat Ozcelik, hurled two grenades at the police honour guard on duty outside the palace but they failed to explode.
Security has been high in Turkey over the last months, amid fears of attacks by Kurdish militants and jihadists who have attacked swathes of Iraq and Syria.