Monday, November 01, 2010

10/31: Taksim Square Suicide Blast*

I just caught wind of the incident at Taksim Square today, where 31 people injured in a suicide bomb explosion. Fortunately, no one died in the attack, but as I was looking at the footage, I realized that I had been right there:



Directly to the right of this neat picturesque scene is the police station where the bombing occurred. This image was taken within 25 feet, but two weeks prior, to where the bomb went off! While in my previous post I was excited to share the fun stuff that occurred in Istanbul, on the first day I was there at Taksim while there were several protests from different groups and even some police out in riot gear down by the university.

I had snapped a few pics, but nothing happened while I was there and the scene was peaceful, albeit tense between the police and the protesters. Mainly, it was a scene of curious onlookers with the protesters encircled by the police and a lot of people ignoring it completely. I didn't linger, but I did stop to figure out what the protest was about.

Less than lethal weapons and tanks of pepper spray were at hand
I was told that BDR is a Kurdish party

And finally, I found a (shaky) movie that actually has the police station that was attacked in view. I recorded it during the midday call to prayer for the audio, but caught another protest from a different group. In the the right corner, you can even see the riot control vehicles they have parked there at this busy and popular square.

video 

I am glad that the victims are recovering, and the incident will not keep me from going back to Istanbul or Taksim square. Even though it's unusual for me to have such a link to an attack like this, I still feel that we're all more likely to get hit by a car than become a victim of this, or any other incident. 

2 comments:

  1. I am taking my husband and kids (15 and 13) to Istanbul this summer. Any tips on safety? we are all world travelers with the least of us at 15 countries and the most at 38.

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  2. My experience is limited to Istanbul, but there was never a situation where I felt specifically threatened. It should not be a major problem for you. That said:

    1. Exercise some amount caution around protests, which are somewhat common near Taksim square. You don't need to avoid the square, but do give them space. If something is going to happen, it's going to be related to these protests.

    2. Watch your money carefully and never hand it over without a firm price. Be sure to count your change! There are quite a few who are good at slight of hand and will count your bills for you while palming one (I got hit with this for 20TL). Same applies when you change money: Do not leave until you've counted your money.

    3. Otherwise, general world travel cautions apply: As long as you are situationally aware, there's nothing to fear. You will be hassled to buy stuff, but that's an annoyance, not a threat. If you don't want to buy, just leave the shop and don't talk with them on your way out if you feel pressured to buy something you don't want.

    4. There are a couple scams which are common. There's the drink scam ("Let's grab a drink, my friend!" / "Here's the bill for 1000TL!" or more). The shoe shine scam (*Shoe shiner drops brush, you pick it up, he gives you sob story* / "10TL for my family?" which is 5-10x the normal price). Taxi scam (*Doesn't turn on meter* / "That's 50TL" again 5-10x more).

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