ANKARA, Turkey - Turkish officials directed blame for a suicide attack at
Kurdish rebels Wednesday, saying the bomber who killed six people and wounded
dozens in the capital used methods similar to those of the separatist group.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan suggested that the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, was a key suspect in
Tuesday's blast, saying of the group that: "We were worried that the terrorist
organization could carry out such attacks in major cities."
Two men help a crying father as people carry the coffin of
his son following an autopsy, a day after a powerful explosion killed six
people and injured more than 100 during a busy rush hour in Turkish
capital of Ankara, Wednesday, May 23, 2007. [AP]
The PKK released no statement either confirming or denying its involvement.
The bomb exploded at a bus stop in front of a busy shopping mall, damaging
shops and hurling glass over the Ulus neighborhood, one of the oldest parts of
Ankara Gov. Kemal Onal said the bomber had been identified as Guven Akkus, a
28-year-old from the predominantly Kurdish southeast who had spent time in
prison for hanging illegal posters and resisting police.
Akkus' body was blown to pieces in the blast, and the nature of his injuries
made clear he was not a victim, Onal said.
"The type of the explosives and equipment used is similar to those used by
the separatist group," he said.
Private NTV television, quoting police officials, said the bomb was made of
plastic explosives. The Turkish military says the rebel group, which has been
implicated in past suicide attacks, is smuggling hundreds of pounds of plastic
explosives into the country from Iraq.
Onal did not say what kind of posters Akkus was convicted of hanging, or
whether they were or if Akkus was affiliated with the separatist Kurdish rebel
The government-run Anatolia news agency reported that, when Akkus was
arrested in May 1996 for resisting police, he was affiliated to a little-known
militant leftist group called the Turkish Union of Revolutionary Communists. The
PKK, which has a Marxist background, has previously developed links with other
Police in Istanbul questioned Akkus' brother and sister for two hours, the
private Dogan news agency reported.
Anatolia, citing unidentified police officials, said authorities were
investigating possible links between Akkus and the PKK because leftist militants
did not traditionally carry out attacks against civilians. The DHKP-C, a banned
Marxist group, has carried out suicide bombings, but they were aimed at
high-level officials, the police told Anatolia.
The agency said police were investigating the possibility that the bomber may
have panicked after seeing a police car and detonated the bomb before reaching
the intended target. It did not say what the target may have been.
Earlier this year, Kurdish militants warned that tourists could be their next
targets. The guerrillas allege Turkey is using lucrative tourism revenues to
finance military operations against the separatists.
The attack came at the start of the tourist season, and the injured included
eight Pakistanis who were in Ankara for a weeklong international defense
industry fair, several miles from the mall.
The governor said 91 people were injured.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul convened an emergency meeting to discuss new
security measures, and police launched a nationwide security sweep.
Officials said they detained a man and a woman with 11 pounds of explosives
in the southern city of Adana. Based on the initial interrogations, Adana Gov.
Ilhan Atis said the woman could have been planning to stage a suicide attack.
The suspects' affiliation was not immediately clear.
In August, a hard-line Kurdish group claimed responsibility for a bus bombing
in the Mediterranean resort of Marmaris that injured 20 people, including 10
But Islamic militants have also carried out bombings in Turkey. In 2003,
al-Qaida-linked suicide truck bombers attacked two synagogues, the British
Consulate and a British bank in Istanbul, killing 58 people.
There is growing impatience in Turkey on how to deal with Kurdish rebels, and
the government has not ruled out military operations against their bases in
northern Iraq. The United States opposes that move, fearing it would complicate
efforts to restore stability in Iraq.