Turkey charges 17 over Istanbul bombing that killed six

November 13 explosion ripped through city’s popular Istiklal Avenue, leaving more than 80 wounded

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A Turkish court has jailed 17 people pending trial in connection with the deadly street bombing in Istanbul.

They are accused of attempts against the unity of the state, deliberate killings and attempts to kill, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

The court released three others from custody, pending trial. It also ordered the deportation of 29 people who were also rounded up by police in connection with the attack.

The explosion on November 13 took place on Istanbul’s bustling Istiklal Avenue — a popular street lined with shops and restaurants — and left six people dead, including two children. More than 80 were wounded.

The attack came as a shocking reminder of bombings that hit Turkish cities between 2015 and 2017, shattering the public’s sense of security.

Turkish authorities blamed the fatal blast on the prohibited Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as Syrian-Kurdish groups with which it is affiliated. The Kurdish militant groups have denied involvement.

Prosecutors questioned the main suspect, a Syrian woman accused of leaving a TNT-laden bomb on Istiklal Avenue, for about five hours.

The woman, identified as Ahlam Albashir, allegedly told her interrogators that she had entered Turkey illegally and stayed at a house in Istanbul for four months, pretending to be part of a couple with one of the other suspects, the Anadolu Agency reported.

Anadolu reported Ms Albashir had allegedly admitted to leaving a bag containing the explosive device on a street bench but claimed she had not known what was inside it.

A trial date is expected to be set after prosecutors prepare their indictment, which could take months.

One suspect was apprehended by Turkish police late on Wednesday in the Syrian city of Azaz — currently under the control of the Turkey-backed Syrian opposition — and was being questioned by police.

There was no information on the 29 people who face deportation.

The PKK has fought an armed insurgency in Turkey since 1984, in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.

Updated: November 18, 2022, 8:56 AM
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