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Three killed in new attack on Turkish resorts

August 28, 2006

By Thomas Grove

ANTALYA, Turkey (Reuters) – A bomb blast killed three
people and wounded dozens in the coastal city Antalya on Monday
in a second day of attacks on Turkish resorts apparently
designed to scare off tourists and hit the economy.

Bombs on Sunday in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul and the
coastal resort of Marmaris wounded 27 people, and a Kurdish
guerrilla group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK) said on Monday it carried out those attacks.

“We have warned the public of Turkey and the international
public before, Turkey is not a safe country, tourists shouldn’t
come,” the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK) said on its Web
site. It was not possible to verify its authenticity.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday
evening’s attack in Antalya, a Mediterranean tourist hub.

The PKK launched a separatist campaign in 1984 and Ankara
blames it for the death of more than 30,000 people. The United
States, the EU and Turkey consider it a terrorist organization.

Ankara will be concerned Turkey’s $18 billion tourist
industry, a powerful motor of the economy, may be further
damaged by the attacks, the latest in a string of bombings in
the past year. Security was stepped up in resort areas.

Witnesses in Antalya told Reuters they heard a loud bang
which broke windows, sent shrapnel flying into people and
sparked a fire at a shopping area in the heart of the city.

“I saw two wounded tourists and the burned body of a dead
man, a pastry vendor,” said holidaying journalist Riza Ozel.

Officials at three hospitals contacted by Reuters said they
had received a total of 38 wounded people. Russia’s Vice Consul
in Antalya, Sergey Koritsky, told Reuters the wounded included
a German, a Jordanian, two Iranians, four Israelis and a
Russian.

“There was a fire and a lot of cars … (and) a lot of
motorbikes were damaged,” he said.

EXPLOSIVES SEIZED

The Antalya blast occurred less than 24 hours after three
bombs in Marmaris wounded 21 people within 15 minutes and a
device in Istanbul wounded six people.

In the major port city of Izmir on Monday police detained a
PKK suspect over a planned an attack there and seized plastic
explosives, the state agency Anatolian reported.

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

“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.

Television images from Antalya showed damaged shops,
mangled bicycles on the street and men carrying wounded people.

Officials vowed to find the culprits, suspected of
belonging to the PKK, which has waged a more than 20-year
campaign to carve out a homeland in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish
southeast.

General Yasar Buyukanit, who took over as chief of general
staff at a ceremony on Monday, said separatist terrorism would
be defeated. The army is stepping up attacks on the PKK and the
rebel group has offered a conditional ceasefire.

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

Antalya photographic shop owner Mesut Isik was pessimistic.
“The tourists have already been few this season and from now on
none will come. Shops have no option but to close,” he said.

German tourism firm Thomas Cook said clients who had booked
a trip to Turkey could change their reservations free of
charge.

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

“I condemn this wave of barbaric and cowardly attacks which
occurred in the past 24 hours in Turkey,” EU Enlargement
Commissioner Olli Rehn said. Turkey is seeking EU membership.

(Additional reporting by Paul de Bendern, Selcuk Gokoluk
and Osman Senkul in Ankara, Emma Ross-Thomas and Daren Butler
in Istanbul, Marie-Louise Moller in Frankfurt and Dale Hudson
in Brussels)


Source: reuters



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