Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has implicitly blamed separatist Kurdish rebels for a bomb attack that ripped through a crowded Istanbul street, killing 17 Golden Goose people and wounding more than 150.
The attack Sunday night (local time) further raised tensions hours before the Constitutional Court met to decide the fate of Mr Erdogan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), facing closure on charges of undermining Turkey's secular system.
Mr Erdogan all but named the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), describing the two explosions as "the cost" of an intensified military crackdown against the rebels in Turkey and in neighbouring northern Iraq, where they take refuge.
"Unfortunately, the cost of this [military action] is heavy. The incident last night was one such example," Mr Erdogan said at the scene of the blasts as residents chanted, "Down with the PKK."
The explosions were the deadliest attack against civilians in Turkey since 2003, when 63 people were killed in four suicide bombings in Istanbul blamed on Al Qaeda.
Both bombs were planted in concrete rubbish containers on a crowded pedestrian street lined with shops and cafes in the popular Gungoren neighbourhood on Istanbul's European side.
A small device went off first at around 10:00pm (local time), creating the initial panic, officials said.
A second, more powerful explosion followed about 10 minutes later about 50 metres away as passers-by and residents milled around the site of the first blast.
The second bomb claimed all the lives, including that of a 12-year-old girl hit in the heart by a piece of shrapnel as she stood watching from her fourth-storey balcony, the Anatolia news agency reported. https://www.goldengooseshoesit.com/
There were scenes of panic with people covered in blood fleeing the area littered with debris and shattered glass.
Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler put the death toll at 17, five of them children, and warned it could rise with six people in critical condition.
Asked whether the PKK was responsible, Mr Guler said, "a link is seen with the separatist organisation" and police are working on it, Anatolia reported.
But a senior Kurdish militant denied any PKK involvement.
"The Kurdish liberation movement is not involved in this attack," Zubeyir Aydar told the pro-PKK Firat news agency.
He said the attack was the work of "sinister forces" and timed to coincide with the AKP trial and a pending case against the shadowy "Ergenekon" nationalist group alleged to have organised attacks and plotted assassinations to create chaos and prompt a military coup against Mr Erdogan's government.
The army has stepped up operations against the PKK and Turkish fighter jets bombed rebel camps in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq, a major rebel stronghold, on Sunday morning.
Mr Erdogan, who cancelled a weekly Cabinet meeting to visit the site of the attack in Istanbul, pledged that the perpetrators would be caught and punished.
"Those responsible for this savagery, wherever they are, will not escape the end that awaits them," he said.
"The strongest response our nation will give to this attack... will be to strengthen our unity."