On Tuesday, Turkey's NTV television reported that an explosion in an Istanbul subway station has injured multiple people. Other local reports say the loud blast was reported at Bayrampaşa metro station, which has since suspended service for all trains. Though the circumstances are unclear and details are still emerging, Turkish radio station Habertürk reported that one person has been killed in the explosion. Law enforcement officials have not addressed whether the incident is related to terrorism, but Habertürk has speculated that the explosion was caused by a power transformer.
However, Turkish broadcaster NTV later reported that the explosion may have been caused by a bomb on a nearby overpass. The state-run Anadolu Agency also reported that the explosion occurred on an overpass near the station and not inside Bayrampaşa station itself. Atilla Aydiner, mayor of the suburban district, later confirmed to AHaber television that the explosion was caused by a pipe bomb and that five people had been injured, contradicting Habertürk's earlier report.
Dozens of people have been evacuated, based on tweets from the scene, as ambulances and fire trucks arrived to the scene. According to local media, the blast could be heard from multiple districts in Istanbul and trains throughout the city have been halted. Other photos on social media show a nearby car whose windshield had reportedly been shattered by the force of the explosion. Despite reports of a possible bomb, some people took to Twitter to announce that the blast was not terrorism-related.
This message could be an apparent attempt to quell concerns amid rising tensions between Turkey and Russia. Last Tuesday, Turkish aircraft shot down a Russian warplane that was flying near the Turkey-Syrian border, killing the pilot and sparking a verbal battle between the leaders of the two countries. In its defense, Turkey said the plane had been flying in its airspace, but Russia was not satisfied with the explanation. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of downing the plane in order to protect its oil trade with ISIS.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, Putin alleged:
We have recently received additional reports that confirm that oil from ISIL-controlled territories is delivered to the territory of Turkey on an industrial scale. We have all grounds to suspect that the decision to down our plane was motivated by the intention to secure these routes of delivering oil to ports where it is loaded on tankers.
In response to Putin's loaded statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied Turkey's ties to ISIS and upped the ante by vowing to resign if Putin could prove his accusation to be true. He also challenged the Russian leader to do the same if it was proven false. He told reporters at the United Nations Climate Conference on Monday, "I am asking Mr. Putin, would you remain?"
ISIS is a common enemy for both Russia and Turkey. The former has recently hinted at plans to join the West in its coalition against the terror organization, while the latter has been an ally since the coalition formed last year and joined the airstrike campaign in August.