Turkish police investigate resort blast

Turkish police have increased security at tourist resorts as investigators sifted through the wreckage of a minibus ripped apart by a bomb that killed five people, including a British and an Irish woman.

    The bomb targeted a busy tourist resort on the Aegean

    In the normally bustling Aegean resort of Kusadasi, the site of Saturday's blast, locals and tourists were uneasy and streets were quieter than normal after the second attack to hit the area in a week at the height of the tourism season.

    Hurriyet newspaper said a group called the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK) claimed responsibility for the bombing, but this could not be confirmed. The group has claimed a series of bombings in the past year, including an attack that injured 20 in the same region six days earlier.

    PKK suspected

    British Ambassador Peter Westmacott, visiting the injured in hospital, told reporters authorities believed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the main guerrilla group, had planted the bomb.

    The PKK condemned the attack, denying involvement.

    The PKK has denied any link
    to the bombing

    "Everyone is scared. Nobody wants to go out on to the street," said Ipek Onturkler, 26, a nurse on holiday there.

    Three Turks - two women and a man - were also killed in the blast, which tore the roof off the minibus as it travelled through the town on the way to a beach on Saturday morning.

    Two of the victims, who media reports said were planning to get married, were buried in separate ceremonies in Izmir on Sunday.

    Remote control

    Another 13 people were injured, five of them Britons, who British government sources said were from the same extended family from northeast England.

    Provincial governor Mustafa Malay told the state-run Anatolian news agency the explosives were hidden in a small bag under one of the seats and were detonated by remote-control or on a timer, not by a suicide bomber as originally thought.

    Security has been tightened at
    tourist resorts

    Shopkeepers hung up Turkish flags and minibus drivers tied black ribbons to their vehicles to protest the attack. Residents
    laid a black wreath at the site of the blast.

    The governor said a five-member team of police bomb experts had arrived to reinforce the investigation.

    "Work is continuing on the investigation and collecting evidence to find some clues. There will be detailed examination of the evidence," he said.

    He said it was likely C-4 plastic explosives were used and said nobody had been detained in connection with the attack.

    Tight security

    Security was tightened at resorts across the region, with police on the look out for suspicious packages and vehicles.

    "Everyone is scared. Nobody wants to go out on to the street"

    Tourist Ipek Onturkler

    Kusadasi, 70 km from the Aegean port of Izmir, is popular with foreign tourists. Turkey is a favourite destination for Britons, with 1.5 million travelling there each year.

    Police said they were investigating whether there was any link to a bombing at a nearby resort on 10 July in which 20 people were injured. The TAK has said it carried out that bombing and threatened to step up attacks on tourism centres.

    The Europe-based Mesopotamia News Agency, a mouthpiece of the Kurdish militants, carried a statement from an armed PKK wing, the People's Defence Force, saying it had no links with the attack or the TAK.

    Clashes

    Officials said on Sunday that soldiers had killed 10 PKK rebels in clashes in southeast Turkey, seizing grenades, a rocket launcher, rifles and 25 kg of plastic explosives.

    The PKK launched an armed rebellion against the state in 1984 with the aim of carving out a homeland in southeast Turkey.

    More than 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

    The troops pursued fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK) in a rural area of Sirnak province neighbouring Iraq and were involved in a firefight on Sunday.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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