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Turkey makes new arrests in connection with a deadly attack

Turkish police have arrested other suspects in connection with the bomb attack on a busy pedestrian avenue in Istanbul that killed six people and injured dozens more, bringing the number of people detained to 50 , said the Turkish Minister of Justice.

Sunday’s blast targeted Istiklal Avenue, a popular thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants.

Turkish authorities have blamed the attack on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as Syrian Kurdish groups affiliated with it. Kurdish militant groups have denied any involvement.

Police raided Istanbul several hours after the blast and arrested 47 people, including a Syrian woman suspected of leaving a TNT-laden bomb in Istiklal.

Relatives and friends of Arzu Ozsoy and his 15-year-old daughter Yagmur Ucar, who died in Sunday’s explosion, attend their funeral in Istanbul (Emrah Gurel/AP/PA)

Police said the woman, identified as Ahlam Albashir, entered Turkey illegally from Syria and admitted carrying out the attack.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the number of suspects in custody had risen to 50, but did not provide details.

“Turkey continues its fight against terrorism with determination,” the independent news site T24 quoted the minister as saying. “No terrorist organization will succeed in any plot against Turkey.”

About 80 people were hospitalized following the attack, of whom at least 57 were released. Six of the injured were in intensive care and two of them were in serious condition, officials said.

The six people killed in the blast were from three families and included two girls aged nine and 15.

Explosion in Turkey
Security and ambulances at the scene after the explosion on Istanbul’s famous pedestrianized Istiklal Avenue on Sunday (Can Ozer/AP/PA)

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has been waging an armed insurgency in Turkey since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since then.

Ankara and Washington both consider the PKK a terrorist group, but disagree on the status of Syrian Kurdish groups, which have allied with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the Kurdish militia in Syria, and on Monday Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said he rejected messages of condolence from the United States.