August 28, 2006

Three dead, dozens hurt in Turkish tourist zone blast

By Thomas Grove

MARMARIS, Turkey (Reuters) - Three people died and dozens
more were injured in a blast in Turkey's Mediterranean city
Antalya on Monday, the fifth bomb to hit the country in less
than 24 hours.

Locals and witnesses told Reuters they heard a loud
explosion, which broke windows, shattered glass, and sparked a
fire at a shopping area in the center of the city, one of
Turkey's most popular tourist destinations.

"I saw two wounded tourists and a burned body of a dead man
who was a pastry vendor," said journalist Riza Ozel on holiday.

Officials at three hospitals contacted by Reuters said they
had received in total 38 wounded people.

The Antalya blast came less than 24 hours after three
separate bombs in the coastal tourist resort of Marmaris
injured 21 people within 15 minutes and another device in
Istanbul wounded six people earlier on Sunday evening.

Television images from Antalya showed shattered shop
windows with goods scattered, bicycles torn apart on the
street, gathered crowds and a man carrying an injured woman.

Local police told Reuters two people were killed in the
attack, with one policeman saying up to 50 may have been hurt.
Shortly afterwards private broadcaster NTV reported a third
person had died at hospital from injuries.

The identities of the injured were not immediately known.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

State-run Anatolian news agency said a nearby street had
been shut off to traffic because a suspicious bag was found. A
bomb squad was on its way to the scene.

In Marmaris, 10 Britons and six Turks were wounded when a
bomb placed under a seat in a minibus exploded on a street
crowded with bars and restaurants around midnight.

"Who did this? What do they want from these people?"
Suzanne Bedford, whose two grandchildren were being treated at
the Ahu Hetman hospital in Marmaris, asked an official.

Local authorities pledged to find the culprits, suspected
of belonging to the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK), which has waged a more than 20-year campaign to carve a
homeland in the mainly Kurdish southeast.


"With the efforts of our security forces we will capture
those behind the blasts as soon as possible and bring them to
account," said Mugla regional Governor Temel Kocaklar.

There was little impact on Turkish financial markets.

Antalya and Marmaris are resorts popular with European and
Russian tourists as well as Turks. Millions of foreigners flock
to its coastline each summer.

Locals are concerned the tourist industry, a powerful motor
of the Turkish economy, would be further dented by the attacks,
which are the latest in a string of bombings over the past

Security was stepped up along the Mediterranean and Aegean
coasts, still packed with tourists.

Kurdish separatists, leftists and Islamic militants have
carried out bomb attacks in Turkey in the past.

Last Friday two bombs exploded in the southern Turkish city
of Adana, injuring four people.

The PKK launched a separatist campaign in 1984. Turkey,
like the United States and European Union, considers the group
a terrorist organization and blames it for the deaths of more
than 30,000 people.

(Additional reporting by Selcuk Gokoluk and Osman Senkul in
Ankara, Emma Ross-Thomas and Daren Butler in Istanbul)