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Heart of Istanbul Attacked by Suicide Bomber

Police forensic experts work at the scene after an explosion in Istanbul's central Taksim Square, 31 Oct 2010

Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, has been hit by a suicide bomber at a place popular with locals and tourists. At least Istanbul 32 people have been reported injured including 10 police officers.

The suicide bomber attacked a bus full of police officers before midday at Taksim Square in the center of the city. The police units targeted are part of a permanent presence in central Istanbul.

Ambulances rushed the injured, many of them civilians, to nearby hospitals. Authorities identified two of the injured as foreigners. The square is popular location for both tourists and locals.

One witness described the attack to journalists.

He said it was a like an earthquake. Most of the injured were police, but I saw a civilian with a terribly injured foot.

Authorities say the number of injured would of have been far higher if the attacker's bomb had fully exploded. At a news conference, Istanbul security forces general director Oguz Kahn Koksal said an investigation began immediately.

He says police are collecting all the evidence, carefully examining the evidence piece by piece, and analyzing the type of plastic explosive and quantity used.

Authorities say they are looking for a person seen with the bomber shortly before the attack.

No one has claimed responsibility. Radical islamic groups, including some linked to al-Qaida have carried out suicide attacks in the country in the past. Last week authorities arrested several people accused belonging to al-Qaida.

In 2003, suicide bombers from a group linked to al-Qaida attacked Istanbul's British consulate, a local headquarters of British-based bank and two synagogues, killing 57 people and injuring more than 700.

The rebel Kurdistan Workers Party is also under suspicion. The group has been fighting Turkey for greater Kurdish rights and has used suicide bombers against security forces. For the past couple months the group has observed a ceasefire, but it is due to end today.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack, saying nothing will succeed in undermining the unity of the country.