Investigators believed a male suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed him and six other people and injured 91 others in Turkey's capital, using methods similar to those of a Kurdish rebel group, a top official said yesterday.
Ankara Governor Kemal Onal identified the suicide attacker as 28-year-old Guven Akkus, who had spent two years in prison for hanging illegal posters and resisting police. Onal did not say if Akkus was affiliated with the separatist Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"The type of the explosives and equipment used is similar to those used by the separatist group," Onal said.
Onal said Akkus' body was blown to pieces in the blast on Tuesday.
So far, there has been no claim of responsibility. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not directly accuse the PKK of involvement, but he suggested that the rebel group was a key suspect.
"We were worried that the terrorist organization could carry out such attacks in major cities," Erdogan said, without using the name of the rebel group. Turkish leaders often refer to the PKK as "the terrorist organization" to avoid publicizing the group.
Kurdish militants have claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past and have threatened to stage new ones. Leftist and Islamic militants have also carried out bombings in Turkey, though less frequently.
Earlier this year, Kurdish militants issued a statement warning tourists they could be targeted if they traveled to Turkey. Kurdish guerrillas, fighting for autonomy in the southeast, allege that Turkey is using lucrative tourism revenues to maintain its military drive against them.
The blast outside one of the oldest malls in Ankara hurled glass and other debris over a wide area.
Authorities earlier said 102 people were injured, but the governor put the final injury toll at 91. Some of the injured were counted twice by mistake, the governor's office said, explaining the discrepancy.
The injured included at least eight Pakistanis who were in Ankara for an international defense fair.
"I strongly condemn this horrible and cowardly attack," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said in Brussels. "The Commission expresses its solidarity with Turkey in its efforts to fight terrorism, which is a common concern for the EU and Turkey."
Shopkeepers hung Turkish flags on the shattered windows of the Anafartalar shopping mall to protest the attack, and government officials met to consider new security measures at the start of the summer tourist season.
The prosecutor's office banned the broadcasting of graphic images from the site, saying they could hurt public morale. Police detained a flag-waving nationalist Turk who wanted to protest the attack early yesterday.
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