A minute’s silence for victims of 2003 bombing at British Consulate in Istanbul

British diplomatic staff in Ankara and Istanbul fell silent on Friday morning to remember twelve of their colleagues who died in a terror attack at the British Consulate in Istanbul seventeen years ago.

The twelve were among 15 victims who were killed when a lorry loaded with explosives was detonated in front of the British Consulate on Meşrutiyet Avenue in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, near to the famous Çiçek Pasajı market.

The blast caused instant fatalities and injuries to those inside the Consulate, and to drivers and pedestrians passing by the building at the time.

Among the dead was the UK’s Consul-General Roger Short and his secretary Lisa Hallworth, as well as Turkish nationals who worked at the Consulate, and two Turkish police officers guarding the site.

In Istanbul, a large wreath of white and red flowers with the words ‘In Memoriam’ and ‘Unutmayacağız’ across it was carried to the Consulate wall that had collapsed after the explosion.

Inside the building, Consul General Judith Slater (pictured above) bowed before the plaque bearing the names of the victims, a large bouquet of flowers left on the table underneath the commemorative inscription.

The Consul General issued a series of tweets in English and Turkish recalling the devastating attack of 2003, including this message: “Today we once again commemorate those who lost their lives in this tragic event. 17 years on, our thoughts are still, as they always are, with their families and friends.”

She wrote, “We remember those colleagues who dedicated their lives to building a stronger relationship btw Flag of United Kingdom & Flag of Turkey. We will always be grateful to them. We will also remember the many other innocent victims of this attack, those who died or were injured in the street outside the Consulate.”

Ms Slater also tweeted that, “the bombing which took place on 20th November 2003 was the deadliest attack there has ever been against a British diplomatic mission.”

In Ankara, British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott led staff in a minute’s silence outside the embassy building. He also tweeted in English and Turkish:

“Observing a minute of silence to commemorate and pay respect to our 12 colleagues who lost their lives in a terrorist attack at the British Consulate General in #Istanbul on 20 November 2003.”

Ambassador Chilcott added that “Our attackers failed to divide us. The UK and Turkey continue to fight against terrorism together and our bilateral relations are strengthening every day.”

In London, the Turkish Embassy also tweeted about the tragic anniversary:

“On the 17th anniversary of the heinous attack against the UK Consulate-General in Istanbul, we once again condemn terrorism and commemorate those who lost their lives in the attack. Turkey is in solidarity with the UK in the fight against terrorism.”

The deadly terror attack on 20 November 2003 was one of two in Istanbul that day, the other targeting the HSBC Bank on Büyükdere Caddesi in the Levent neighbourhood of Beşiktaş.

Five days earlier Istanbul had been rocked by two mega bombings outside synagogues in the city: the Bet Israel Synagogue in Şişli and another in front of the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Beyoğlu.

Al Qaeda was behind all four bombs, which claimed 55 civilian lives in total, and left over 700 people injured.