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UNWTO Strongly Condemns Blast in Central Istanbul Tourist District

The Blue Mosque in the Sultanahmet district, a popular tourist area that is home to many of Istanbul's Ottoman and Byzantine sites.

The Blue Mosque in the Sultanahmet district, a popular tourist area that is home to many of Istanbul’s Ottoman and Byzantine sites.

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) strongly condemned the attack in the heart of Istanbul’s historic tourist district Sultanahmet on Tuesday which killed at least 10 foreigners.

According to media reports, nine of those killed were German and one was Peruvian. At least 15 other foreigners were wounded by the blast.

“On the behalf of the entire international tourism community, UNWTO conveys its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and expresses its full solidarity with the people and the Government of Turkey” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

“This tragic event reminds us once more that we are facing a global threat that requires a firm and coordinated response by all governments and the international community. Turkey is a leading tourism destination and we are confident it will continue to be so” he added.

Germany issues Turkey travel advise

After the explosion, the German Foreign Ministry advised country’s citizens to show “increased caution” when traveling to the Turkish city of Istanbul and Germany’s federation of tour operators urged German tourists to contact their travel agents.

Moreover, leading German tourism giant TUI announced that customers with bookings to Istanbul could cancel or postpone their trip without penalties for the next six days or even switch destination without penalties.

Istanbul: One of the world’s most visited cities attacked

Shortly after 10 a.m. local time, an explosion caused by a suicide bomber took place in Sultanahmet square, near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the two largest tourist attractions in Istanbul.

According to a Reuters report, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that the suicide bomber was a foreign member of Islamic State (ISIS). While speaking in Ankara, Davutoglu said the suicide bomber is thought to have recently crossed into Turkey from Syria.

“Turkey will continue its fight at home and with coalition forces,” he said and promised to punish those associated to the bomber.

Turkey is part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State fighters who have seized territory in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

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