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Terrorism & Security

Powerful car bomb in Turkey kills five and injures dozens with outlawed Kurdish Workers Party or PKK suspected

The attack Thursday in Diyarbakir reinforces pressure on Turkish authorities to continue aerial bombing of PKK positions in northern Iraq. Fighting between the PKK and Turkish security forces threatens to destabilize Kurdish northern Iraq and make Iraqi political reconciliation more difficult.

By Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor / January 4, 2008



BANGKOK, THAILAND

A powerful car bomb in southeast Turkey has killed five people and injured dozens of soldiers on a military bus that was the apparent target. Authorities have blamed armed Kurdish separatists who operate in Turkey and across the border in northern Iraq, where Turkish warplanes struck last week in the latest cross-border attack.

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The blast occurred Thursday afternoon in Diyarbakir, a city in Turkey's Kurdish heartland that had suffered previous bombings. In the past, the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, which has been fighting since the 1980s for autonomous rule, has claimed responsibility for some attacks. Fighting between the PKK and Turkish security forces has spilled over into Iraq in recent months, threatening to destabilize the Kurdish north.

The New York Times reports that a bomb in a parked car was detonated by remote control as a busload of troops was passing. Bus driver Cahit Kara told state-controlled Anatolian News Agency that the 46-seat vehicle was headed to a nearby military housing estate.

"As we were moving on the Mimar Sinan Street close to the compound, a massive explosion happened," Mr. Kara said. "We were left in the middle of flames. I got injured in the explosion and was taken under treatment at the military hospital."

Local schoolchildren were among the dead, while others were injured by flying glass as the blast shattered the windows in a school, reports The Times (UK).

Early reports suggested that two of the dead were soldiers, but it was said later that all those killed were civilians, including two pupils who had been leaving the school. Thirty soldiers were among the injured. The blast was heard almost 3km (2 miles) away.

This week, Turkish troops said they had seized over 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a potential ingredient for bombs, from houses near Diyarbakir, which has several military installations. On Thursday night, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the bombing and vowed to combat terrorism which had "showed its bloody face once more."

Citing a hospital doctor in Diyarbakir, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Friday that the number of injured from the attack had risen to 110, higher than local officials had said earlier.

Five people were killed and 110 others injured in the explosion Thursday, the doctor told Xinhua on Friday.
Earlier on Thursday following the blast, Diyabakir Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said that five people including three school students were killed and 67 others wounded, including 30 military personnel.

The British Broadcasting Corporation reports that four people have been detained by Turkish police investigating the car bombing. A Turkish prosecutor Durdu Kavak said in a written statement that the four were suspected of links to the attack, but gave no further details.

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