August 28, 2006

Three dead in Turkish tourist zone blast

By Thomas Grove

MARMARIS, Turkey (Reuters) - A bomb blast killed three
Turks and wounded dozens more people in Turkey's Mediterranean
tourist hub Antalya on Monday, the fifth explosion to hit the
country in less than 24 hours.

Blasts in Turkey's largest city Istanbul and the coastal
resort of Marmaris injured 27 people on Sunday and a Kurdish
rebel group believed linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers
Party (PKK) said on Monday it carried out those attacks.

"Nothing in Turkey will be as it was before," said the
Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK) on its Web site, claiming
responsibility for Sunday's blasts.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
Antalya explosion.

Locals and witnesses in Antalya told Reuters they heard a
loud bang, which broke windows, shattered glass, sent shrapnel
flying into people and sparked a fire at a shopping area in the
heart of the city, one of Turkey's most popular 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. Russia's Vice Consul
in Antalya Sergey Koritsky told Reuters that the injured
included a German, a Jordanian, two Iranians, four Israelis and
a Russian.

"There was a fire and a lot of cars were damaged, a lot of
motorbikes were damaged," he said, adding that the street was
packed with restaurants and shops.

The Antalya blast came less than 24 hours after three
separate bombs in Marmaris injured 21 people within 15 minutes.
Another device in Istanbul wounded six people earlier on Sunday

Television images from Antalya showed shattered shop
windows with goods scattered, bicycles torn apart on the
street, gathered crowds and men carrying injured and bloodied
people, many in a state of shock.

Antalya's governor's office said the three dead were Turks.
One policeman said up to 50 may have been hurt.

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 PKK, which has waged a more than 20-year
campaign to carve a homeland in the mainly Kurdish southeast.


There was little impact on Turkish financial markets, but
one hotel owner in Marmaris said cancellations had already
started to come in.

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. The United
States and the European Union, as well as Turkey, consider the
group a terrorist organization. Ankara blames the group 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)