Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Twin explosions in Istanbul kill at least 26

SUICIDE BOMBINGS British Consul-General Roger Short was among the victims in an attack the UK's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said bears the hallmarks of al-Qaeda

AP , ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Water spews from the HSBC building in Istanbul after it was hit in a string of explosions in the city yesterday killing at least 26 people.

PHOTO: AFP

Truck bombs killed at least 26 people and wounded nearly 450 in attacks on the British consulate and a London-based bank yesterday -- days after a bloody terrorist strike on Istanbul synagogues. The al-Qaeda terror network was blamed for the latest attacks, which came as US President George W. Bush visited London.

Security forces were put on the highest alert to deal with some of the worst bloodshed in Turkey since the 1970s.

Among those killed was British Consul-General Roger Short, private NTV television reported. US Ambassador Eric Edelman to Turkey confirmed that Short was dead, the Anatolia news agency said.

Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said Short could be under the debris of the collapsed wall of the consulate compound.

"There are similarities with Saturday's attacks, most probably these are suicide attacks too," Aksu said.

The bombings at the high-rise headquarters of the HSBC bank and the British consulate occurred five minutes apart at about 11am They followed a pair of synagogue bombings Saturday that killed 23 people, plus the two bombers.

Bush, meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair, said Thursday's bombings showed the terrorists' "utter contempt for innocent life."

"The terrorists hope to intimidate, they hope to demoralize. They are not going to succeed," Bush said at a news conference with Blair.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described the attacks as "clearly appalling acts of terrorism" and suggested a link to the al-Qaeda network.

"I'm afraid it has all the hallmarks of international terrorism practiced by al-Qaeda," he said.

An unidentified caller to the semiofficial Anatolia news agency said al-Qaeda and the militant Islamic Great Eastern Raiders' Front, or IBDA-C, jointly claimed responsibility for attacks.

Turkish authorities blamed both the synagogue attacks last weekend and yesterday's strikes on the same groups.

"It seems the attacks have been conducted with the same barbaric methods," Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, who serves as government spokesman, told reporters.

Turkish media said the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, but the governor's office said only that attackers blew up explosive-laden pickup trucks.

Turkish army troops made a brief appearance on the streets in Istanbul, deploying on a major highway and standing guard beside police in Istanbul. Military ambulances were also seen.

The first Istanbul blast was at the Turkish headquarters of HSBC, the world's second-largest bank, shearing off the facade of the 18-story building and shattering the windows of nearby skyscrapers.

Body parts, the charred shells of cars and broken glass were scattered around a 9-foot-deep crater that was carved in the streets outside the bank. Water gushed out of the top floors of the building.

Bystanders, bloodied and covered in dust, looked dazed as they walked past lines of ambulances. Several people helped carry the limp bodies of victims.

Another bomb ripped off the wall surrounding the garden of the British consulate in the downtown Beyoglu district.

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