Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:24 pm (KSA) 09:24 am (GMT)

Turkish minister blames PKK for Istanbul bombs

Tthe two bombs last week killed 17 people (File)
Tthe two bombs last week killed 17 people (File)

Separatist Kurdish militants carried out two bomb blasts in Istanbul last week that killed 17 people, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said Saturday, announcing several arrests.

"This was an inhumane act by the bloody separatist terrorist organization," Atalay told reporters, using the official description of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Ten suspects were questioned and handed over to the judicial authorities, Atalay said, adding that they comprised of most of those involved in last Sunday's blasts, including those who "personally took part" in the attacks.

The police consider the incident to be resolved as the findings leave "no room for hesitation," Atalay said at the Istanbul police headquarters, where weapons and other implicating materials seized in the suspects' houses were displayed.

Two bombs, planted in rubbish containers, exploded about 10 minutes apart last Sunday in a crowded pedestrian street in the popular Gungoren neighborhood, on Istanbul's European side.

The first bomb drew a large crowd of onlookers, and the second, more powerful blast killed 17 people, including five children and a pregnant woman.

A prosecutor who questioned the 10 suspects later Saturday asked a court in Istanbul to remand eight of them in custody on charges of belonging to the PKK, while releasing the remaining two, Anatolia news agency reported.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described the Gungoren blasts as the "the cost" of an intensified military crackdown against the PKK, both inside Turkey and in northern Iraq, where the rebels take refuge.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, has denied responsibility for the bombings, the deadliest attack on civilians since 2003 when two sets of twin suicide bombings, blamed on Al-Qaeda, claimed 63 lives in Istanbul.

Some analysts have suggested that the PKK leadership is in disarray and cannot control radical cells.

In January, the PKK apologized for a car bombing in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir which killed seven people, saying that it was the work of militants who acted without the leadership's approval.

The PKK took up arms for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.

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