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Four arrested following Istanbul car bombing

11 people were killed in an explosion outside the five-star Celal Aga Konagi Hotel yesterday.

A car bomb ripped through a police bus in central Istanbul during the morning rush hour and killed 11 people on 7 June 2016. Picture: Abed Ahmed.

ISTANBUL - Istanbul police have confirmed that at least four people were detained following a remote car bomb which killed 11 people.

Police say the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, who Turkey considers terrorists, were responsible for the attack.

Roads passing through the Vezneciler neighbourhood in the Fatih district were reopened last night after 16 hours.

The area is filled with hotels due to its proximity to much visited tourist sites.

The blast happened outside the five-star Celal Aga Konagi Hotel, which was closed for renovations at the time.

French tourist Jean Yves Colliaux, who is staying in a hotel a block away, said his holiday will continue as normal.

"We're continuing but we're here for just two days."

But Zurich Hotel manager Kerem Tataroglu, says many hotels in the area are seeing a high amount of online reservations being cancelled.

He says it will take around two weeks for the area to get back to normal and welcome more tourists for the summer season.

GUNSHOTS

Several witness reported hearing gunshots, although there was confusion as to whether attackers had opened fire or whether police officers had been trying to protect colleagues.

"We were told that it was police trying to keep people away from the blast scene," said Mustafa Celik, 51, who owns a tourism agency in a backstreet near the blast site. He likened the impact of the explosion to an earthquake.

"I felt the pressure as if the ground beneath me moved. I've never felt anything this powerful before," he told Reuters.

US Ambassador John Bass condemned the "heinous" attack and said on Twitter the United States stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Turkey in the fight against terrorism.

Turkey has suffered a spate of bombings this year, including two suicide attacks in tourist areas of Istanbul blamed on Islamic State, and two car bombings in the capital, Ankara, which were claimed by a Kurdish militant group.

That has hit tourism in a nation whose Aegean and Mediterranean beaches usually lure droves of European and Russian holidaymakers. Russians stopped coming after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria last November.

The number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell by 28 percent in April, the biggest drop in 17 years.

"Business hasn't been very good anyway. We're now expecting fast check-outs and we think it will get worse," said Kerem Tataroglu, general manager of the Zurich Hotel, less than 300 meters from where Tuesday's blast happened.

While attacks by Islamic State have tended to draw more attention in the West, Turkey is equally concerned by the rise in attacks by Kurdish militants who had previously concentrated for the most part on the southeast.

Additional information by Reuters