Car bomb targets police at sports stadium in central Istanbul

ISTANBUL – A car packed with explosives detonated Saturday night at the entrance of a soccer stadium in central Istanbul, authorities said, injuring about 20 people and sending a plume of smoke over the city in the latest in a string of terrorist attacks in the country.

The bomb, which could be heard across Istanbul, exploded outside the Vodafone Arena in the Beskitas area of Istanbul, less than a mile from the city’s bustling Taksim Square and on the edge of the Bosporus.

Turkey has been hit by multiple terrorist attacks in recent years, including from both the Islamic State and Kurdish militants waging a war for autonomy. In June, suspected Islamic State operatives staged an assault on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, killing nearly 50 people. Militants have also carried out deadly attacks in the capital, Ankara, and other Turkish cities.

Saturday’s blast detonated near a group of riot police who were posted at the stadium following a soccer match earlier in the evening, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The area is normally packed with fans and other traffic on weekend nights.

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Fires set off by the blast burned around the stadium, according to footage aired on local news channels, and ambulances were seen rushing to ferry the wounded.

One of the teams that had played earlier that night, Bursaspor, said on its official Twitter account that none of its fans had been injured in the bomb, which produced a massive, orange fireball and shook doors and windows in Turkey’s largest city.

A video of a news conference at the stadium showed the moment of the blast, which sent people running. Another video circulated online showed the fiery explosion in the background of two young men playing guitar on the Bosporus.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said there was “no information” on the number of fatalities, but that the roughly 20 wounded were identified as police.

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Turkey has been roiled by political instability, including a failed coup attempt against the government this summer. A widespread crackdown on suspected coup plotters has also snagged dissidents and opposition figures, including ethnic Kurdish politicians.