Five killed in bomb blast in downtown Ankara (Roundup)
May 22, 2007, 19:55 GMT
A forensic officer examines a body after a blast in Ankara, Turkey, 22 May 2007. An explosion at a shopping mall in Turkey\'s capital Ankara on Tuesday killed four people and injured 56, Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek said. EPA/STR
Ankara - Five people were killed and at least 60 injured in a bomb explosion in Ankara Tuesday evening, Turkey's NTV television station reported.
The explosion hit the busy Ulus area of the city at around 6:45 p.m. (1345 GMT) at a bus stop outside a block of offices just as the streets were full of commuters heading home.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters at the scene of the blast that four Turks and a Pakistani national were killed. He said that at least 60 people, including four Pakistanis were injured.
Television footage showed widespread damage to buildings near the blast with many buildings having their windows blown out.
NTV quoted police sources who said they had found traces of A-4 plastic explosives with police immediately labelling the rebel Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) as a prime suspect.
In the past two months police have seized some 200 kilos of A-4 plastic explosives during raids around the country on PKK suspects. The explosives were smuggled into Turkey from neighbouring Iraq.
Witnesses said they had seen a suspicious package left at a bus stop at the scene of the blast but it was not clear whether the blast was caused by a suicide bomber or set off by remote-control.
NTV reported that seven people had been taken into custody in the first two hours after the explosion.
Erdogan refused to be drawn on whether the PKK were behind the blast saying that one of the aims of terrorist groups was to use such events as propaganda instead he stressed the need for international cooperation against terrorism.
'This incident shows that we have to strengthen cooperation against terrorism,' Erdogan said. 'We have observed how terrorism has happened all over the world, in the United States, Britain, Spain and Italy. We have always repeated that an international platform for fighting terrorism must be established.'
Turkish military chief Yasar Buyukyanit told reporters a few minutes later that it was important to look at 'who feeds the terrorists' a veiled reference to support that the PKK receives from sympathizers around the world.
The PKK began operations in the early 1980s with the aim of carving out an independent Kurdistan in south-east Turkey. The group is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.
The vast majority of PKK operations have taken place against Turkish military targets in south-east Turkey but it has at times claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in major Turkish cities.
The Kurdish Freedom Falcons, a shadowy group believed to have split off from the PKK after a disagreement over tactics, has also been behind a number of bomb attacks in tourist areas in the past two years. In recent months the Kurdish Freedom Falcons have reissued warnings that tourists should stay away from Turkey.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur