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Death Toll In Istanbul Bombing Rises To 16

The scene of the bombing in the Gungoren district in Istanbul
ISTANBUL -- The death toll in a July 27 bombing in Istanbul has risen to 16 while around 150 were wounded, state-run Anatolian news agency reported, in an attack hours ahead of a court case over banning the governing party.

"We know the killers," the "Sabah" newspaper said in a headline above a picture of bodies strewn across a busy pedestrian area where two bombs had torn through the crowds.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, the deadliest attacks in Istanbul since 2003. Newspapers said three people had been detained in connection with the bombing.

Several newspapers said police were focusing their investigations on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group, saying it had used similar explosives in the past.

Officials said a loud blast brought people into the streets and a larger bomb hidden in a rubbish bin exploded 10 minutes and 50 meters away in Gungoren district, near the main airport, where families gather in the evenings to dine and stroll.

"We now have 16 citizens who have passed away," Anatolian quoted Health Minister Recep Akdag as saying.

Forensic teams examined the scene of the blasts and police were investigating the security cameras in the area.

Kurdish separatists, far-left groups, and Islamists have all carried out bombings in Istanbul in the past.

Turkey, which is seeking European Union membership, has been plunged into political and economic uncertainty by a court case over banning the ruling party that begins on July 28.

The Constitutional Court, Turkey's highest judicial body, will begin deliberating on whether the Justice and Development (AK) party has engaged in Islamist activities and should be closed. The party denies the charges. A ruling is expected in early August.

Tensions have also risen in recent weeks over a widening police investigation into a suspected ultranationalist group accused of seeking to overthrow the AK party government.