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 8 injured in explosion in Istanbul, Turkish PM accuses Kurdish rebels 

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8 injured in explosion in Istanbul, Turkish PM accuses Kurdish rebels  27.5.2011  

May 27, 2011

, — A bicycle bomb wounded eight people including a police officer in Istanbul on Thursday, in an attack that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said bore the mark of the main Kurdish militant organisation.

The blast occurred near a bus stop in Etiler, a residential and shopping district, at the end of the morning rush hour in Turkey's biggest city.

Police were investigating whether the target was a Turkish police training school nearby.

Turks vote in a parliamentary election on June 12. Security forces are on edge as militant activity, related to a long-running Kurdish separatist insurgency and including attacks on police, has increased in recent weeks.

A bicycle bomb wounded eight people including a police officer in Istanbul on Thursday. Photo: AP

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Erdogan, campaigning in central Anatolia, threw suspicion on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the main militant group whose insurgency began in the 1980s and has killed more than 40,000.

"When we look at the style it appears to be related to the terror organisation," state-run Anatolian news agency quoted Erdogan as saying, using the veiled term he often uses to refer to the PKK.

Police chief Huseyin Capkin said an electric bicycle with the explosive device planted on it was left close to a nearby police technical college. "... we can say it was a medium sized bomb," Capkin told reporters at the scene.

Erdogan's AK Party is expected to score a comfortable victory next month to win a third consecutive term in office, having first come to power in 2002.

Erdogan has said he will rewrite Turkey's constitution if he is re-elected, to replace one drafted in 1982 under military tutelage following a coup two years earlier.

"The aim of the attack is to prevent Turkey from discussing democracy, elections, a new constitution," said Suat Kilic, a parliamentarian from the ruling AK Party. "Terrorist organisations carry out these attacks before every election."

"The attack aims to prevent AKP from gaining enough seats to change the constitution," Kilic said.

Capkin said none of the wounded were in critical condition, though CNN Turk news channel quoted Istanbul's provincial health manager as saying two had serious injuries.

The site of the blast was cordoned off and white-suited forensic teams combed the area.

"We thought the building had collapsed. I even thought that a plane had crashed into the next garden. Everybody was in panic," pharmacist Ilhan Kurt told Reuters.

Watching from his shop across the road he saw a few people getting off a bus that had been passing by when the explosion occurred. "Some people were holding their ears, who I think were injured. Three or four people got out of a bus."

In June 2010, a blast rocks bus carrying Turkish soldiers in Istanbul, five killed,
www.ekurd.netwounding 12. Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons TAK claimed responsibility for the blast.

In 2007, bombs were mounted on bicycles in the mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in the Kurdish region in the southeast, and the western coastal city of Izmir. Authorities blamed Kurdish rebels for those attacks, which killed one person and wounded about 20. The website of Hurriyet newspaper cited a similar bicycle bombing in 2006 in the southern coastal city of Mersin, where Kurdish militants are active.

Since it was established in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Turkey also has a history of attacks by Islamic and leftist extremists.

In 2003, Islamic militants tied to al-Qaida carried out suicide bombings in Istanbul, killing 58 people.   

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