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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the blast that hit Istanbul on Sunday was likely an act of terror.

"Although it is too early to confirm 100 percent, initial reports and information from the governor's office show (the blast) smells like terror," Erdogan said at a press conference in Istanbul before heading to Indonesia for the G20 summit.

"It looks like a single woman had a role in it," added the president, noting a full-scale investigation was underway.

An explosion hit the busy pedestrian Istiklal avenue on the European side of the city at 4:20 p.m. local time (1320 GMT), killing at least six people and wounding 53 others.

The blast caused severe panic in the city, particularly in the historic Beyoglu district where loud sound rippled through.

A large number of health personnel arrived at the scene to tend to the wounded, and the police are now on high alert.

(Xinhua News Agency)