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Two bomb blasts rock Turkey amid rising tensions

Latest update : 2009-04-29

Two suicide bombings rocked Turkey on Wednesday, one targeting soldiers in southeast Turkey and another apparently aiming at a former minister visitng the University of Ankara. The incidents were blamed on separatist Kurd militias.

AFP - Nine soldiers were killed in southeast Turkey in the worst attack in months and police detained two suspected suicide bombers in the capital on Wednesday in an escalation of tensions.


The incidents were blamed on militant groups, including the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighting a 25-year conflict with the authorities over rights in southeast Turkey.


Police had warned regional police forces across Turkey of possible suicide attacks by groups linked to the PKK.


A woman carrying explosives and pretending to be a student detonated a bomb at Bilkent University in Ankara during a visit by a former justice minister, authorities said.


Hours after, a second suspected suicide bomber was detained in the capital, Turkish broadcaster NTV said. No further information was immediately available.


Violence blamed on Kurdish rebels and leftist groups that operate in the predominantly Muslim country have long weighed on its export-driven economy.


However, stocks and the lira currency shrugged off the attacks, posting gains as investors focused on U.S. data pointing towards a recovery rather than violence.


The suspected suicide bomber, who had approached former minister Hikmet Sami Turk who regularly visits the university, was wounded but nobody else was hurt.

Turk was hated by left-wing groups for his policies when he was in office. He had received death threats.


"A person pretending to be a student girl entered the building. It is obvious that this was a suicide bomber. She was wounded and is in detention now," Ankara Governor Kemal Onal said, adding she had 1 kg of explosives on her body.


In a separate attack blamed on PKK rebels, nine soldiers died while on patrol in the restive mainly Kurdish southeast.


Armed Forces commander General Ilker Basbug told a news conference in Ankara a powerful homemade bomb had hit a tank and an armoured personnel vehicle in the province of Diyarbakir.


The attacks raised fresh tensions in European Union candidate Turkey, where the economy has been hard hit by the global economic crisis.


Security forces are fighting PKK rebels in a 25-year separatist conflict that has claimed the lives of 40,00 people and hurt stability in the region.


The PKK, branded a terrorist organisation by Washington and the European Union, has been militarily weakened by Turkey's improved cooperation with northern Iraqi authorities against PKK guerrillas who stage attacks into Turkish territory from Iraq.


The government has recently launched a crackdown on Kurdish militants and Kurdish politicians suspected of having links with the PKK in raids that threaten to inflame tensions in the southeast.


A poor showing by the ruling AK Party in the southeast in last month's municipal elections has also put renewed pressure on the government to address the root cause of the conflict.


Kurds have long complained of discrimination against them by the state and have called for political and cultural rights.


Date created : 2009-04-29