Turkish court charges nine over Istanbul bombings (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) ISTANBUL, TURKEY 11/25/03 7:54 AM ET)
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ISTANBUL (AFP) - Nine people were charged by a state security court
over the massive bomb attacks on British targets in Istanbul as Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed terror would not be allowed to
flourish on Turkish soil.
The nine were charged with membership of and aiding and abetting an
illegal organisation after hours of interrogation by the court, while
another three suspects were released, Turkish media reports said
At least 28 people were killed and 450 more injured when suicide
bombers drove explosives-laden trucks into the British consulate and
the Turkish headquarters of London-based HSBC bank in the old city of
Five days earlier, similar bombings wrecked two synagogues on the
European shores of Istanbul, killing 25 and wounding 300.
The body of British consul general Roger Short, among at least three
Britons killed in the consulate bombing, is to be flown back to
England on Thursday, undertakers said.
The four attacks have been claimed by Osama bin Laden´s al-Qaeda
group and a small Turkish group called the Islamic Great Eastern
Raiders Front (IBDA-C), and Turkey remains on high security alert
amid warnings of more terror strikes.
Five people were charged last week with "attempting to overthrow the
constitutional order" over the synagogue bombings and a sixth was
charged with aiding an illegal organisation.
Erdogan has said the bombers were Turkish nationals with
international links, although he was not certain that the bombings
were the work of al-Qaeda.
"God willing, terrorism will not be able to grow on the soil that has
been the cradle of many civilisations," he said after prayers for the
Eid al-Fitr festival, known here as Bayram, marking the end of the
Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
"We should respond to terror by celebrating this holiday in a spirit
of brotherhood," he said.
Erdogan reiterated that security forces were doing everything to find
those responsible for the worst peacetime attacks in Turkey´s modern
"Let´s hope there will not be a chain of attacks, that it is over
now," said Erdogan, head of an Islamist-rooted government who again
insisted terrorism could not be tied to Islam or any other religion.
Some observers have suggested that Turkey was targeted by Islamic
fundamentalists because it is a pro-Western Muslim democracy and a
NATO member closely allied to the United States and Israel.
In mosques across the nation, preachers obeyed a government directive
to condemn "terrorism" and pray for national unity during Eid.
Istanbul governor Muammer Guler said Monday that police had
identified the consulate bomber, although Turkish officials have
accused the media of impeding their investigation by naming the
Turkish police and Britain´s Scotland Yard are focusing inquiries on
the impoverished town of Bingol in mainly Kurdish southeastern
Turkey, an Islamist stronghold said to be the hometown of at least
three of the suicide bombers.
In other developments, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer made a
four-hour solidarity visit to Ankara on Monday, calling on Turkey to
speed up democracy reforms but pledging support for its bid to join
the EU and to help in the fight against terror.
"The government must put all its energy into reforms. Germany will,
with all our determination, do what we can to help Turkey in its
ambitions," he said at a press conference with Turkish counterpart
Turkey has been an EU candidate since 1999 but has yet to secure a
date to open accession talks, with Brussels demanding more progress
on key reforms, notably involving human rights and treatment of its
ethnic Kurdish minority.
Turkey´s economy minister meanwhile said the economy, emerging from
one its worst ever recessions, was strong enough to withstand the
financial fallout from the attacks. (Copyright © 2003 Agence France
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