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Suicide Bombing Rocks Istanbul

Police secure the area following a suicide bombing in a major shopping and tourist district in central Istanbul on March 19.

A suicide bomber has killed himself and four others in a central Istanbul shopping district, wounding at least 36 more people in the fourth such attack in Turkey this year.

The March 19 blast struck the shopping and tourism area of Istiklal Street, a long pedestrian avenue lined with international stores and foreign consulates.

The blast occurred a few hundred meters from an area where police buses are often stationed.

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu confirmed that seven of those wounded were in serious condition and at least 12 of them were foreigners.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the bombing killed two Israeli citizens.

Turkish officials said one Iranian was also among the dead.

U.S. officials said two Americans were killed, and Ireland said "a number" of Irish citizens were hurt.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, which immediately drew international condemnation.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault issued a statement calling the attack "despicable and cowardly,"

"The United States stands in solidarity with our NATO ally Turkey in combating the common threat of terrorism," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

The attack is the latest in a spate of bombings that have rocked Turkey this year.

A car-bomb explosion in the capital, Ankara, on March 13 killed 37 people.

Three weeks earlier, a similar attack in the capital killed 29.

Both of those attacks were claimed by Turkey on the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, a splinter group of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

A suicide attack in January in Istanbul killed 12 German tourists. Ankara blamed that attack on the Islamic State extremist group.

With reporting by Reuters, CNN, dpa, and AP
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