FOOTAGE has emerged showing the moment a suicide bomber blew himself up in one of Istanbul's busiest shopping streets, killing four people.
A graphic video that The Independent has decided not to publish shows shoppers walking up and down Istiklal Street, chatting to friends and laughing in the final seconds before the blast.
Seconds later, a huge explosion rocks the avenue, which is lined with international shops and foreign consulates, sending glass and debris flying as people flee the scene.
Footage showed shoppers passing down Istiklal Street seconds before the suicide bombing on 19 March
As the smokes and flames clear, burn marks can be seen on the ground alongside charred bodies and scattered limbs.
Separate footage captured by a shop CCTV camera several metres away shows the explosion engulfing the wide boulevard before bystanders, including a man who appears to be injured, flee down the road.
Turkish officials say five people, including the suicide bomber died and 36 more were injured, including 12 foreigners, in what was the fourth terror attack in the country in 2016.
Three Israeli citizens may be among those killed and 11 were wounded, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said, adding that the government was sending a plane to bring the victims home.
Turkish officials said one Iranian and one Israeli were among the dead, Ireland said "a number" of its citizens were hurt and broadcaster NTV said two Icelandic citizens were also injured.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and suspicion turned to both Isis and the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its affiliates.
Both factions have committed atrocities in Turkey at an increasing rate over the past year, as Turkey continues military operations in Kurdish areas in the south-east and the Syrian war rages over the border.
Turkish officials told Reuters the bomber may have been aiming for a more crowded area.
"The attacker detonated the bomb before reaching the targeted point because they were scared of the police," one said.
Another official said investigations were focusing on three possible suspects, all of them male and two of them from the southern city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border.
People flee the scene of an explosion on the pedestrian Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on March 19, 2016.
Local residents said Istiklal Street hits its peak on weekend afternoons and evenings and that 11am local time (9am GMT), when the blast hit, would have been comparatively quiet.
Germany shut down its diplomatic missions and schools on Thursday, citing a specific threat. Meanwhile, the US and other European embassies had warned their citizens to be vigilant ahead of Newroz celebrations this weekend, a spring festival that Kurds in Turkey traditionally use to assert their ethnic identity and demand greater rights.
Turkey is still in shock from a suicide car bombing that killed 37 people at a crowded transport hub in Ankara on Sunday and a similar bombing in the capital last month in which 29 died.
The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility for both attacks.
But the last bombing in Istanbul, which killed 13 tourists in the famous Sultanahmet Square in January was blamed on an Isis suicide bomber.
Additional reporting by agencies