M A I N   N E W S

27 dead, 450 hurt in Istanbul blasts
British Consul-General among killed

A file photograph of Britain's Consul-General to Turkey Roger Short, who was killed in the twin bomb attacks on Istanbul
A file photograph of Britain's Consul-General to Turkey Roger Short, who was killed in the twin bomb attacks on Istanbul on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Istanbul, November 20
Explosions hit the Turkish headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank and the British consulate today, killing at least 27 persons and wounding about 450, health officials said. The blasts came days after the city was hit by two synagogue bombings.

Attackers blew up explosive-laden pick-up trucks in the bombings, Istanbul Governor’s office said. The explosions took place five minutes apart, at about 11 a.m. The attacks, which Turkish media reported were suicide bombings, were blamed on Al-Qaida and coincided with the visit of US President George W Bush to London.

Reports from London said Britain’s Consul-General to Turkey Roger Short was killed in the twin attacks on Istanbul.

“Sadly, the Britain consul is dead,” Mr Ian Sherwood, Chapplain to Britian’s Consulate in Istanbul said, adding that he had just been with the Consul-General’s family.

Meanwhile, in London, US. President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood united on the war on terror and condemned a bombings in Turkey.

KIRKUK (IRAQ): An explosion today in front of the offices of a Kurdish political party in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, killed four persons, an official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said.

“An explosion took place at 10:30 this morning,” said Jalal Johar, the party’s representative in the city said. Four persons were killed and several wounded, he said.

The PUK is a pro-US group whose head, Jalal Talabani, is the current head of the US-installed Iraqi Governing Council.

The latest bombing comes after a string of attacks and assassinations of politicians and community leaders who have cooperated with the US-led coalition.

Insurgents have warned they will target anyone who collaborates with the occupation authorities.

Meanwhile, at Ramadi in Iraq a car bomb blast struck the offices of a US-appointed local council in the Iraqi town of Ramadi late yesterday.

There were conflicting reports of casualties but one hospital official said seven persons were killed in the attack at 10 pm.

A US military spokeswoman confirmed there had been a car bomb attack in Ramadi, 100 km west of Baghdad, but gave no further details.

Ramadi is part of the so-called “Sunni Triangle” west and north of Baghdad where resistance to the US-led occupation is strongest.

In Karbala, two Iraqi children were killed and two wounded when an explosion ripped through a classroom near the Shiite Muslim pilgrimage city of Karbala, medical staff said today.

“One of the wounded suffered serious injuries. The children were 11 or 12,” the director of Karbala’s Al-Hussein Hospital, Abbas Mussa al-Tamimi, told AFP.

The police said it had opened an inquiry into the yesterday’s blast at Al-Abed school, 2 km west of the city. It was not immediately clear whether the explosion was the result of a deliberate attack or one of the children had brought unexploded ordnance into the school as a toy. — AP, AFP and Reuters



Al-Qaida claims responsibility

Istanbul, November 20
An unidentified caller claimed responsibility for the two bomb blasts in Istanbul on behalf of Al-Qaida and a Turkish underground Islamic extremist group, Anatolia news agency reported.

“The attacks are a joint action by the Islamic Front of Raiders of the Great Orient (IBDA-C) and Al-Qaida. Our attacks against masonic targets will continue. Muslims are not alone,” the caller told Anatolia news agency in taking responsibility for the attacks.

The person said in a phone call to the agency that the attacks, which left at least 25 dead and injured over 400, were a joint attack by the two groups. — AFP


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