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TURKEY Explosion kills 5 on Aegean coast



Published: Sat, July 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Sixteen others were wounded in the attack on a minibus in a resort town.

WASHINGTON POST

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- An explosion destroyed a minibus ferrying tourists in a Turkish resort town Saturday, killing five people and wounding 16, Turkish authorities reported.

The fatalities in the sun-splashed town of Kusadasi included an Irish woman, Ireland's foreign minister announced. Six British citizens were among the wounded, five of whom were listed in serious condition, according to a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office.

The state-run Anatolian News Agency reported that a female suicide bomber caused the blast by detonating an explosive she held in her lap. But The Associated Press quoted a Turkish deputy governor as saying the bomb was planted on the bus.

The blast reduced the white minibus to a carcass, its sides and top torn away. News photos showed passengers in beachwear struggling to lift themselves out of pools of their own blood on a main street as passersby scrambled to help.

More bombings

It was the second bomb attack on Turkey's popular Aegean coast this month, and appeared aimed at crippling the country's $15 billion-a-year tourist industry. Three foreigners were among 21 people wounded earlier this month by a bomb hidden in garbage in Cesme, a crowded resort city that is also on the Aegean coast.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, suspicion immediately fell on the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons separatist group, which asserted responsibility for the bombing in Cesme and an attack April 30 in Kusadasi that killed a police officer.

Intelligence analysts believe that the organization is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the guerrilla force known by its Turkish initials PKK, which last year resumed a civil war in southeastern Turkey that killed more than 30,000 people in the late 1980s and 1990s. Turkish officials have blamed the resurgence in part on American reluctance to attack the guerrillas in a mountain refuge in northern Iraq.

The PKK, which the State Department has listed as a terrorist organization, used female suicide bombers twice in 1999, following the capture of its leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Underground leftist groups active in Turkey also have used suicide bombers, including a woman who devastated an Istanbul city bus last year shortly before President Bush arrived for a conference of the NATO alliance.

The British government acknowledged that the attacks appeared to be aimed at intimidating tourists.




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