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Explosions Rock Istanbul Soccer Stadium, Killing 38, Wounding 155

Rescue and medics carry a wounded person after attacks in Istanbul, late Saturday. Two explosions struck outside a major soccer stadium in Istanbul after fans had gone home.
Cansu Alkaya AP
Rescue and medics carry a wounded person after attacks in Istanbul, late Saturday. Two explosions struck outside a major soccer stadium in Istanbul after fans had gone home.

Turkey has declared a national day of mourning after two explosions struck a large soccer stadium in Istanbul, leaving at least 38 people dead and 155 others wounded, according to the Turkish interior minister. Among those killed were 30 police officers. Suleyman Soylu says the source appears to have been a car bomb that targeted a riot police bus outside Vodafone Stadium.

"It is thought to be a car bomb at a point where our special forces police were located, right after the match at the exit where Bursaspor fans exited, after the fans had left," Soylu said, according to The Guardian.

According to the Associated Press, Soylu said 13 people had been arrested in connection with the attacks.

The BBC reports that Soylu said the explosion happened at one of the stadium's exits, "where our special forces police were located."

The stadium had played host to a game between the teams Bursaspor and Besiktas earlier in the day. In a tweeted statement, the Turkish soccer team Bursaspor said that none of its fans appear to have been harmed in the attack.

The Turkish transport minister, Ahmet Arslan, tweeted that the explosion was a terrorist attack.

"I condemn the terror attack on Besiktas, Istanbul, and wish all those injured a speedy recovery," Arslan said, according to The Guardian.

On Sunday, President Tayyip Erdogan promised the government would continue to fight against terrorism "until the end," reports the AP.

Saturday's violence comes at a time of prolonged political upheaval in Turkey. As reporter Teri Schultz reported, a failed military coup attempt in July has been followed by months of purges across Turkish society:

"Some 110,000 government bureaucrats, teachers, journalists, soldiers and others have been detained, fired or suspended from their jobs in Turkey on suspicion of aiding or sympathizing with the coup attempt."

Among them are hundreds of Turkish military personnel working for NATO, who have been accused of participating in the failed ouster of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

At the same time, CNN reports that Turkey has been hit with violence from several different angles:

"ISIS militants have mounted a series of devastating bombings that have claimed the lives of hundreds of Turks."Meanwhile, Turkish security forces continue to clash on a nearly daily basis with PKK militants, mostly in predominantly Kurdish parts of southeastern Turkey."

Just last month, a car bomb killed eight people in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the majority-Kurdish southeast.

Meantime, the AP reports that Turkey's prime minister's office has imposed a temporary blackout on coverage of Saturday's explosion:

"The order asks media organizations to refrain from broadcasting and publishing anything that may cause "fear in the public, panic and disorder and which may serve the aims of terrorist organizations."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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