suicide bombing Istanbul Istiklal
Police forensic experts inspect the area after a suicide bombing in a major shopping and tourist district in central IstanbulReuters

At least two foreigners were killed by a suicide bombing in a central Istanbul that left five people dead and scores injured. Turkish officials said an Iranian and an Israeli were among the fatalities of the explosion that hit Istiklal Avenue, a famous commercial street near Taksim Square, on the morning of 19 March.

Speaking to local media, deputy health minister Ahmet Baha Otuken identified the Israeli victim as Simha Demri. Eli Bin, The head of Israel's rescue service MDA said the family had been notified and the body was to be repatriated shortly by an MDA ambulance plane.

Another 36 people, including more than a dozen foreign nationals were injured in the blast that authorities blamed on a suicide attacker. At least 10 of the wounded were said to be Israelis on a culinary trip to the Turkish metropolis.

"He just exploded on us," group member Naama Peled said of the attacker speaking from her hospital bed to Hebrew-language Walla website.

The blast was captured on security camera. CCTV footage from nearby shops showed a fireball going off near a group of pedestrians, strolling along what is usually one of Turkey's busiest streets.

Istanbul bombing: Video shows suicide bomb attack, foreigners among victimsIBTimes UK

Two Irish nationals, one German, one Iranian, one Icelander, a UAE citizen and a person from Dubai were receiving treatment at several city hospitals, the health ministry said.

The German foreign office urged its citizens in Istanbul to stay indoors and check for updates on the situation. Just days before the blast, the German government had closed down its consulate and a school in Istanbul over intelligence about a possible terror attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Turkey has come under attack both from Islamist and Kurdish militants in recent months. The US consulate in Istanbul tweeted: "Saddened, shocked by explosion on Istiklal. We mourn with families of the lost, and we wish the injured a speedy recovery".

The attack could have seen a worse toll, as it struck the street around 11am local time when the area was still relatively quiet. With its many shops, cafes and restaurants, Istiklal Avenue is one of Istanbul's most famous landmarks and is normally crowded with people on Saturdays, but is at its busiest in the afternoon. Numerous countries have their consulate buildings in the area.

The Irish department of foreign affairs and trade updated its travel advice for Turkey with news of the attack. It called on its nationals planning to visit the country "to exercise caution".

The threat from terrorism in Turkey remains high," the advice read. "Vigilance is required in tourist areas such as Taksim Square in Istanbul and locations close to police stations, which may be targets for terrorist attacks."

Istanbul suicide bombing Istiklal
Emergency services inspect the area following a suicide bombing in a major shopping and tourist district in central IstanbulBurak Kara/Getty Images
Istanbul suicide bombing Istiklal
A Turkish police stands guard in central Taksim square following a suicide bombingBurak Kara/Getty Images