WRAPUP 7-Turkey says several arrested after blasts (REUTERS) By Brian Williams ISTANBUL, TURKEY 11/21/03 09:36 AM ET)
Reuters News Service
Reuters News Service Articles-Index-Top
ISTANBUL, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Turkey said on Friday police had
arrested several people over twin truck bomb attacks on British
targets in Istanbul that killed 27 people, including Britain´s top
diplomat in the city.
A statement purporting to come from a unit of Osama bin Laden´s al
Qaeda network said it carried out Thursday´s strikes on the British
consulate and the London-based HSBC bank, five days after two similar
attacks on Istanbul synagogues.
U.S President George W. Bush, on a state visit to Britain, pledged
his solidarity with Turkey, a key NATO ally long promoted by
Washington as a model of Islamic democracy.
Headlines in Turkish newspapers reflected the sense of shock in a
nation still reeling from Saturday´s explosions.
"Al Qaeda is at war with Turkey," declared the Radikal newspaper as
Istanbul awoke, shrouded in thick fog. Many Turks were killed or
wounded alongside British citizens.
Photographs showed dazed and bloodied survivors at the scene of the
blasts and the shattered HSBC and consular buildings.
Thursday´s twin bombings killed 27 people, including British Consul
General Roger Short, and wounded more than 400.
On Saturday two Istanbul synagogues were devastated by suicide truck
bombs that killed 25 and wounded 300, making this the worst week of
peacetime violence in Turkey´s modern history.
Britain has warned more terror attacks may target Turkey.
"Some people have been arrested, but it´s too early to give any
information about them," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told a
news conference, referring to the Thursday blasts.
The Turkish daily Hurriyet said seven people had been arrested over
the Thursday attacks, which it said were carried out by Turkish
suicide bombers. A spokesman at the Istanbul governor´s incident room
could not confirm the report.
HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L: Quote, Profile, Research) , Britain´s
biggest company, said it had resumed service in Turkey on Friday
despite the blasts. HSBC Bank has about 160 branches in the country.
Other expatriates also sounded a note of defiance.
"This is not a September 11 attack. This can happen in Nigeria,
America or even Germany," said German Christian Johannes, 33, a
partner in a firm working in the energy sector.
Istanbul, a vibrant commercial city of 12 million, was on alert for
possible further attacks as Turkey heads into the annual Muslim
Bayram holiday next week.
Turkey´s National Security Council, an advisory body grouping
political leaders and influential military commanders, was certain to
focus on the attacks and counter-measures at a Friday afternoon
meeting in the capital Ankara.
In a telephone conversation, Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan "affirmed that they stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight
against terrorism", the White House said.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw appeared with Gul at the
Istanbul news conference, pledging support.
"This was as much an attack on the Turkish people as it was upon
British interests, and we stand together with Turkey."
A statement apparently from a unit of Osama bin Laden´s al Qaeda
network, the Abu Hafz al-Masri Brigades, and published on the
Islamist Web site Al Mujahidoun, said it had carried out the latest
attacks. It could not be independently authenticated.
The Abu Hafz claim, in Arabic, said Turkey was targeted because of
its membership in the "crusader" NATO alliance and its ties with
the "Zionist entity" Israel.
A Turkish group called the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders Front (IBDA-
C) has also claimed joint responsibility with al Qaeda for all four
Istanbul attacks and warned the network was planning more strikes
against the United States and its allies.
Thursday´s double strike shocked world markets, already on edge after
al Qaeda´s warning earlier this week of more attacks.
Security fears weighed on the European stock market mood on Friday,
although the dollar regained ground.
Istanbul´s stock market, which shed 7.37 percent on Thursday before
trade was halted, remained shut on Friday. Turkish debt prices
slipped and the lira wobbled. (Additional reporting by Claudia
Parsons in Istanbul)
(© Reuters 2003 11/21/03)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY