It was early Saturday morning when a blast went through the air. We were out by the popular Sultanahmet square which is the center of the historic part of Istanbul. An attack had occurred here before as it is usually packed with tourists. However since it was early on Saturday, a lot of shops were still closed.
The attack happened on Istiklal street, which is a really busy street. Usually on weekends and even during the week it’s quite packed. There are all kinds of shops and basically where everyone goes to shop or walk around. The attacker was apparently targeting a group of Israeli tourists but got scared off when he was noticed by security personnel. Then he blew up.
See how packed it is? And this is on a week night, not even a weekend! Fortunately, Saturday morning is the time when it’s the least busy, as everyone has stayed up late on Friday night to party (except for me, I don’t party like that). Also the attacker wasn’t near a big crowd so the impact was minimal. If he had attacked on a Friday night or Saturday night it would’ve been even more deadly.
Still he managed to injure and kill several people. You can see how he blew out a shop and even some second story windows were blown out.
Even though we were a safe distance away, we were able to see the aftermath. The police quickly closed off the area and the whole street was closed off for a day or two. Also, the Turkish government shut down Facebook and Twitter so that people were not able to post photos or communicate at all through these mediums. They do this after every suicide attack to minimize the public relations damage because that really kills tourism. After all that, it was back to everyday life except for a hastily built memorial at ground zero.
Even with this experience, I really wasn’t fazed all that much by it. I would still go back to Istanbul as I think it’s quite safe really. You probably have more chances of dying in a car accident or getting struck by lightning than by a suicide bomber or terrorist attack here. Even so, you always want to be careful as you normally would be and enjoy the city! It’s an amazing place that I would go back to for sure 🙂
Seeing the security footage of the bomber I was so surprised at seeing how normal this guy looked. He was wearing a light jacket, but it didn’t bulge out at all (like the ones you see in the movies). There is no way you could tell he was wearing a suicide vest. And then bam, big fireball with the unfortunate people that were walking near him crumpled on the floor. That was sad to see.