January 2016 Istanbul bombing

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Coordinates: 41°0′21.24″N 28°58′31.43″E / 41.0059000°N 28.9753972°E / 41.0059000; 28.9753972

January 2016 Istanbul bombing
Part of Islamic terrorism in Europe
Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome), Istanbul.jpg
Attack site is located in Istanbul
Attack site
Attack site
LocationTurkey Sultanahmet, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey
Date12 January 2016
TargetForeign tourists
Attack type
Suicide bombing
Deaths14 (including the perpetrator)[1]
PerpetratorsIslamic State
Participant1 (Nabil Fadli)
Nationality Deaths Wounded Total
Germany Germany 12 6 18
Peru Peru 1 1 2
China China 0 1 1
South Korea South Korea 0 1 1
Total 13 9 22

On 12 January 2016, a suicide attack in Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet district killed 13 people, all foreigners, and injured 14 others. The attack occurred at 10:20 local time, near the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, an area popular among tourists. The attacker was Nabil Fadli (Arabic: نبيل فضلي), a Syrian member of the Islamic State.


The last major attack on Sultanahmet Square occurred on 6 January 2015, when a suicide bomber detonated herself at a police station. The DHKP-C initially took responsibility for the attack but later retracted this claim.[2] It was later revealed that the suicide bomber was Diana Ramazanova (Russian: Диана Рамазова), a national of Dagestan origin with links to ISIL.[3]

In 2015, Turkey suffered two major bombing attacks. In July, 33 people were killed in an ISIL suicide attack in the town of Suruç, near Turkey's border with Syria. In October, two suicide bombers detonated explosives which killed more than 100 people outside Ankara's main train station as people gathered for a peace rally. It was Turkey's deadliest attack. The prosecutor's office said it was carried out by a local ISIL cell.[4]

In December 2015, Turkish police detained two suspected ISIL militants believed to be planning suicide attacks during New Year's celebrations in central Ankara, following which the government of Turkey cancelled planned New Year's celebrations in Ankara.[5] There were additional arrests connected to ISIL on 11 January of three men arrested en route to Diyarbakir.[6]


The blast struck at 10:20 a.m. local time (08:20 UTC) at a park that is home to the landmark Obelisk of Theodosius,[7] when the bomber walked up to a tour group standing in Sultanahmet Square and blew himself up.[8] The obelisk is some 25 metres (82 ft) from the historic Blue Mosque[9][10][11] and the blast was heard from several surrounding areas in the city.[12] Police cordoned off the area.[13] Graphic images of the explosion and its aftermath spread across social media.[8]

Thirteen were killed in total; twelve were German tourists,[14] and one was Peruvian.[15][16][17][18][19] The Guardian reported that "the bombing happened close to the German built fountain next to the plaza between the mosques of Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmet."[20] News media reported that nine people were wounded including six Germans, one Chinese, one Peruvian and a South Korean.[15]


Turkish authorities identified the suicide bomber as Nabil Fadli (born 1988), a Syrian. According to the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry, Fadli was born in Saudi Arabia; he and his family left that country when he was eight years old, and Fadli grew up in Manbij in northern Syria, a region ever under ISIL control. Fadli's family is ethnically Turkman. According to reports, Fadli was "a regular foot soldier" in ISIL and his brother committed a suicide bombing at an airport several months earlier.[21][22]

Fadli entered Turkey on January 5, 2016, and had been registered and fingerprinted as a refugee. His name had not set off security alerts.[21][22]


Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said firstly that the perpetrator of the attack was a 28-year-old Syrian man who was affiliated with ISIL. He further said that the bomber was not on Turkey's militant watch-list and was believed to have recently crossed into Turkey from Syria.[9] Davutoğlu also called German Chancellor Angela Merkel to offer his condolences.[9] Davutoğlu immediately convened a security meeting with the Turkish interior minister. He said "We pledged to battle the [ISIL] until it no longer "remains a threat" to Turkey or the world. Turkey won't backtrack in its struggle against Daesh [i.e., ISIL] by even one step. This terror organization, the assailants and all of their connections will be found and they will receive the punishments they deserve."[23]

Following the attack, the Turkish government's Radio and Television Supreme Council imposed a temporary broadcast ban on images of to the bombing (under a 2011 law allowing such censorship), and the ban was affirmed by an order from an Istanbul court.[24][25]

International reactions[edit]

Flowers and flags of Turkey and Germany near Obelisk of Theodosius. January 2016



  •  Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed "serious concern" about the casualties, saying "a German tourist group had been affected."[9] Germany's foreign ministry has on its website urged German tourists in Istanbul to avoid large crowds and tourist attractions and warned that further violent clashes and "terrorist attacks" were expected across Turkey.[9]
  •  Malaysia: The Malaysian government has strongly condemned the attack and expressed its deepest condolences to the government and people of Turkey as well to the families and victims involved.[27]
  •  Pakistan: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a press statement, condemned the attack.[28] The President and Prime Minister said the people and Government of Pakistan stand firmly with their Turkish brethren at this hour of grief.[29]
  •  Singapore: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan have condemned the attack and stand with the Turkish people and government.[30]
  •  United States: State Department: "The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack today in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, Turkey. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those killed, and wish a quick and full recovery to those injured. The United States reaffirms our strong commitment to work with Turkey, a NATO Ally and valued member of the Counter-ISIL Coalition, to combat the shared threat of terrorism."[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ten German dead in Istanbul terror attack". The local.de. 13 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Turkish leftist group retracts claim of responsibility for bomb attack". Reuters. 9 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Sultanahmet suicide bomber spends 11 days in İstanbul before attack". Today's Zaman. 16 January 2016. Archived from the original on 14 January 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  4. ^ "At least 10 killed as 'suicide bomber' hits Istanbul tourist hub". Dawn. 12 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Explosion in Istanbul Turkey causes casualties in tourist-heavy Sultanahmet district". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Live Blog: Tracking Islamic State". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  7. ^ Loveday Morris, Istanbul attack signals Islamic State's apparent pivot toward tourism sector, Washington Post (January 13, 2016).
  8. ^ a b Peker, Emre; Nissenbaum, Dion; Albayrak, Ayla. "Islamic State Bomber Hits Istanbul Tourist District, Turkey Says". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Explosion in central Istanbul". BBC News. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Deadly Blast Hits Istanbul Square". NBC News. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Reports: several injured in explosion in Istanbul". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 12 January 2016. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  12. ^ "ISIS-affiliated suicide bomber kills 9 German tourists in Istanbul". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  13. ^ Piotr Zalewski, Istanbul Bombing Was a Strike Against Turkey’s Economy, Time (January 12, 2016).
  14. ^ "Sultanahmet'te patlama: Ölü ve yaralılar var! - #Türkiye". Radikal. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  15. ^ a b Yeginsu, Ceylan (12 January 2016). "Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 10 in Istanbul District of Sultanahmet". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  16. ^ "Istanbul tourist district hit by deadly blast". Al Jazeera.
  17. ^ "Explosion in Istanbul's Sultanahmet Square leaves 10 dead, 15 injured". Daily Sabah. 12 January 2016. Archived from the original on 12 September 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  18. ^ "Explosion at İstanbul's historic square kills 10, media ban imposed". TodaysZaman. 12 January 2016. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  19. ^ Reuters Editorial (12 January 2016). "Ten dead, fifteen wounded in Istanbul blast: governor's office". Reuters. Retrieved 12 January 2016. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  20. ^ Weaver, Matthew. "Istanbul explosion: 10 people killed in tourist area – live updates". the Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  21. ^ a b Dion Nissenbaum, Ayla Albayrak & Raja Abdulrahim, Istanbul Suicide Bomber Entered Turkey as Syrian Refugee, Officials Say, Wall Street Journal (January 13, 2016).
  22. ^ a b Ceylan Yeginsu & Victor Homolajan, Istanbul Bomber Entered as a Refugee, Turks Say, New York Times (January 13, 2016).
  23. ^ "10 dead, 15 wounded in Istanbul tourist district explosion". Yahoo News. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  24. ^ Charlotte Alfred, Why Turkey Bans News About Terror Bombings: Even though they're ignored and circumvented, the media blackouts still serve a purpose, Huffington Post (January 13, 2016).
  25. ^ Priyanka Mogul, Istanbul blast: Turkish government orders 'media blackout' on Sultanahmet attack coverage, International Business Times (January 12, 2016).
  26. ^ "Margaritis Schinas on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  27. ^ "Malaysian government condemns Istanbul terrorist attack". The Sun. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  28. ^ "Pakistan condemns terrorist attack in Istanbul, expresses solidarity with Turkey". www.mofa.gov.pk. MOFA Pakistan. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  29. ^ "Pakistan strongly condemns Istanbul terror attack". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  30. ^ "Singapore leaders condemn Istanbul bomb attack". AsiaOne. 12 January 2016. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  31. ^ "United States Condemns Terrorist Attack in Istanbul, Turkey". Retrieved 12 Jan 2016.