Cablegate: New Bombing Wave Targets British Institutions
UNCLAS ISTANBUL 001744
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL ASEC TU
SUBJECT: NEW BOMBING WAVE TARGETS BRITISH INSTITUTIONS
1.(U) At least two powerful explosions targeting British
institutions rocked Istanbul shortly before 11 a.m. on
Thursday, November 20. The first exploded at 10:55 a.m. at
the Istanbul headquarters of HSBC Bank in the Levent
financial district. Shortly thereafter a tremendously
powerful explosion struck the British Consulate in the Taksim
district, in the heart of Istanbul's shopping district (and
near the former U.S. Consulate). While Turkish press
initially reported five explosions, the discrepency appears
to have resulted from a number of secondary gas explosions.
Initial reports indicate that 18 people were killed and 358
wounded, but that total is likely to swiftly rise, given the
magnitude of the blasts. British Consul General Roger Short,
who was seen entering the Consulate shortly before the
explosion, is now listed as missing.
2. (U) The first explosion struck in Levent, Istanbul's
financial district, at 10:55 a.m., at the Istanbul
headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank. Conoffs and
visiting Terrorist finance team felt the explosion from their
meeting location with a Turkish bank over half a mile away.
News photos show extensive damage to the fifteen story
building, with windows blown in and the building's entrance
area gutted. Initial reports are that there were six
fatalities at the site.
3. (U) Moments later, a second even more powerful explosion
occurred in front of the British Consulate in the Taksim
district of Istanbul. That explosion was audible all over
the city, with a huge cloud of smoke billowing from the site.
Later photographs show that the bomb detonated directly in
front of the Consulate's gate, levelling the entire gatehouse
and causing major damage to the Consulate and surrounding
streets, which constitute one of Istanbul's major shopping
districts. Ten people are reported dead at the site, but
that total is also likely to rise.
4. (U) Consulate will convene an EAC this afternoon to review
our security profile in the wake of this ongoing terror
campaign. We will also hold a town hall meeting with the
entire community. At present, all Consulate employees and
American dependents have been accounted for.
5. (SBU) Consulate will also offer full assistance to our
British colleagues, including possible office space for
investigators at the old Consulate building in Beyoglu.