Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Bombings in Turkey leave at least five dead, 20 wounded

AFP , ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Five people were killed in a powerful bomb blast in Istanbul yesterday, just days before world leaders including US President George W. Bush descend on the city for a NATO summit.

The attack on a public bus in Turkey's largest city occurred only hours after a small bomb exploded outside a hotel in the capital Ankara where Bush is expected to stay tomorrow, wounding three people.

Police said five people were killed and at least twenty were others injured in the Istanbul blast, which occurred on a public bus outside a hospital in the European district of the city, despite a massive security operation.

The bombing came seven months after a wave of deadly attacks against British and Jewish targets in Istanbul, which is hosting the NATO summit Monday and Tuesday.

Security fears have been rife in Turkey since November when four suicide bombers, suspected members of a local Al-Qaeda-linked cell, detonated explosive-laden trucks outside Jewish and British targets in Istanbul, claiming 63 lives and leaving hundreds of people injured.

Two of the wounded in the Ankara blast were policemen who were inspecting a suspicious parcel when it blew up near the entrance to the Hilton hotel, police chief Ercument Yilmaz said.

One of the officers was seriously injured in both feet and risked amputation, while the other policeman and the civilian suffered minor injuries, hospital sources said.

"I thought lightning had struck ... I ran 100 yards to the spot and saw a policeman lying in a pool of blood," said Mithat Aksoy, a cab driver who was waiting for customers at a nearby taxi station when the blast occurred.

"His foot was blown away and another officer was standing next to him in a state of shock," he added.

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