ISTANBUL — At least six people were killed and dozens more injured when an explosion rocked a popular pedestrian street in Istanbul, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday.
“The explosion might be a terrorist act. A woman is thought to be involved,” Erdogan said in a televised address, without providing details about how he had come to this conclusion.
Vowing that the perpetrators would be punished, Erdogan said four people died at the scene and two in the hospital. He added that according to information he received from Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerlikaya, at least 53 people were injured.
Shortly after the blast, Yerlikaya tweeted that it “occurred in Taksim Istiklal Street,” a crowded thoroughfare lined by shops and restaurants, at about 4:20 p.m. local time (8:20 a.m. ET).
“Our wounded are being treated,” he said, adding, “We wish God’s mercy on those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to the injured.”
The Turkish Red Crescent said blood was being transferred to nearby hospitals.
Social media users said shops were shuttered and the avenue had been closed down. The area, in the Beyoglu district of Turkey’s largest city, had been crowded as usual on the weekend with shoppers, tourists and families.
Turkey’s media watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council, imposed a broadcast ban on coverage of the blast around an hour after it occurred — a move that prevents broadcasters from showing videos of the moment of the blast or its aftermath.
It has imposed similar bans in the past, following attacks and accidents.
Istanbul’s mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, also offered his “condolences to those who lost their lives in the explosion on Istiklal Avenue,” on Twitter.
Between 2015 and 2017 Turkey was hit by a string of deadly bombings by the Islamic State group and outlawed Kurdish groups.
Aziz Akyavas reported from Istanbul and Mithil Aggarwal from Hong Kong.
Aziz Akyavas is an NBC News Producer based in Istanbul, Turkey.
Associated Press contributed.