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Small blast at Turk Cypriot PM's home before talks
Updated: 2004-02-19 15:38

A small blast rocked the home of Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat early on Thursday, hours before landmark reunification talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots were due to begin.

The blast, caused by a percussion grenade or "sound bomb," occurred at 1:30 a.m. (6:30 p.m. EST Wednesday).

It shattered windowpanes and damaged the main door of his house but nobody was hurt, Talat's party said in a statement carried in Thursday's edition of his newspaper Yeni Duzen.

There was no immediate word on who might have carried out the attack. "Sound bombs" or percussion grenades make a deafening noise but rarely cause much serious damage.

"If this is a threat it will not get anywhere. It is a saddening thing that this has happened, but it does not scare us," Talat said in the statement.

"They are trying to obstruct communal peace on Cyprus. They will in no way be successful," said Talat, who had been at his home in the coastal town of Kyrenia, north of the divided capital Nicosia, when the blast happened.

Talat, who became prime minister after last December's general election in the tiny enclave, is a strong supporter of the efforts to reunify Cyprus, split on ethnic lines since 1974.

At 3 a.m. EST, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders begin fresh U.N.-mediated talks in Nicosia aimed at ending the decades-old division of Cyprus that would allow the whole island to join the European Union on May 1.

Failure to reach a deal would mean only the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south of the island joining the EU. Such a development would deepen the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and possibly harm Turkey's own hopes of starting EU entry talks.

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