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Istanbul: Turkey Blames Kurds For Bomb Attacks

Istanbul: Turkey blames Kurds for bomb attacks

Istanbul's governor has blamed two bomb blasts which killed 17 people and injured 150 others in Istanbul on a Kurdish rebel group - but the rebels have denied involvement.

Gov Muammer Guler said police were still investigating the explosions in a packed square on Sunday night, which were the deadliest attack against civilians in Turkey in five years.

"There appears to be a link with the separatist organisation. We are working on that. We hope to get a result at the first opportunity," Mr Guler said.

But Firat, a pro-Kurdish news agency, reported Zubeyir Aydar, a Kurdish rebel leader, as saying that the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, did not carry out the bombing.

"The Kurdish freedom movement has nothing to do with this event, this cannot be linked to the PKK," he was quoted as saying. "We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and to the Turkish people."

While government officials blamed the Kurds, the timing and location of the attacks pointed to a link with a key court case which threatens the future of the Islamic-oriented government.

The attack came on the eve of deliberations by the Turkey's top court on whether to ban the ruling party for allegedly trying to steer the country toward Islamic rule. The government won a strong mandate in elections last year, but is locked in a power struggle with secular circles that have backing in the military and judiciary.

The case before the top court is pivotal in that conflict, which has distracted attention from key policies such as Turkey's troubled bid to join the European Union.

There were reports yesterday that Turkish police had detained three teenagers in connection with the blasts, but Mr Guler would not confirm that report.

Turkey is home to a variety of militants, including Kurdish rebels, Islamic extremists and alleged coup plotters with ties to the secular establishment.

Deniz Baykal, the opposition leader, said security officials told him the type of bombs used were similar to those detonated in attacks in Ankara and Diyarbakir, a mostly Kurdish city, which were blamed on the PKK.

The PKK, which is designated by the EU as a banned terror organisation, is fighting for an independent homeland in Turkey's south and Iraq's north.

The high level of professionalism in the Istanbul bombings, apparently designed to inflict maximum casualties among civilians, was unsettling. Authorities said the vast majority of the deaths and injuries occurred when a curious crowd gathered after an initial, small blast.

"First, they exploded a percussion bomb to grab attention. Then, 10 minutes later, in another trash can, they exploded a fragmentation bomb," said Hayati Yazici, deputy prime minister.

Cihan news agency said the second bomb consisted of a plastic explosive of the same kind used in a suicide attack in a shopping thoroughfare in Ankara in May 2007 that killed seven people.

Cihan said two of the dead were children. Anatolia news agency said one victim was a 12-year-old girl who rushed with her parents onto the balcony of their fourth floor apartment to see what was going on.

Original Source : cks.html