- ISTANBUL, Turkey (CP) --
A bomb exploded on an Istanbul bus Thursday, killing at least four people
and wounding 14, and another bomb went off in front of the Ankara hotel
where U.S. President George W. Bush is to stay before Monday's NATO summit,
- Police said they suspected far-left Marxists in both
attacks, the latest in a series of blasts - most of them small, without
casualties - ahead of the NATO gathering, which Foreign Affairs Minister
Bill Graham will be attending.
- Bush arrives in Ankara on Saturday night to meet with
Turkish leaders before heading to the summit in Istanbul.
- White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "These
terrorist attacks are intended to disrupt preparations for the upcoming
NATO summit." He added that Bush's schedule would not be changed.
- Istanbul has been the scene of al-Qaida attacks in the
past, but many Turks also are angry over Bush's visit because of high opposition
to U.S. policies in neighbouring Iraq.
- The NATO summit beginning Monday also will be attended
by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac,
- Prime Minister Paul Martin is staying home because of
Monday's federal election. He is sending Graham in his place.
- Security in Istanbul is expected to be extremely tight
for the summit.
- Graham told reporters Thursday during a conference call
that "security is a huge issue now at these important international
conferences" which "may make it ... more awkward to get around
than it normally is."
- "But it's certainly not going to stop us from going
there and doing our business."
- The Istanbul explosion occurred as the bus passed through
the residential Fatih district, about eight kilometres from the summit's
- The bomb - a concussion grenade - exploded in the lap
of a woman in her early 20s who apparently was transporting the device
when it accidentally went off, said Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler. The woman
was among the four killed, said Korhan Taviloglu, a doctor at Capa Medical
- "It was apparently a bomb that was being carried,"
Guler said. "It is understood that the target was neither the bus
nor the passengers aboard."
- Concussion grenades produce a loud noise and shock wave
but usually cause little damage - unless they go off in a confined area.
Thursday's blast blew out bus windows and tore through passengers.
- "I saw the bus, its windows broken. People on the
bus were in a panic. They were trying to escape and the driver was struggling
to open the door," said Murat Gulen, a pharmacist whose shop is across
- Witness Necdet Devrim told NTV television that he saw
"injured people on the floor. They were screaming and bleeding. Arms
and legs were on the street - it was an awful scene."
- Fifteen people were wounded, said Taviloglu.
- About a half-dozen small-sound bombs have exploded in
Istanbul in recent days, injuring several people. Leftist groups have used
the bombs in the past.
- "We are considering the likelihood of a Marxist-leaning
organization" being behind the attack, Istanbul's governor said.
- The blast in Ankara, about 400 kilometres east, went
off 75 metres from the entrance to the Hilton hotel, injuring a civilian
and two policemen.
- The officers were approaching the package containing
the explosive after an anonymous tip that a bomb was placed nearby, Police
Chief Ercument Yilmaz said. The blast tore off the foot of one officer,
while the other suffered scratches on his face, said Adil Surat, head of
the trauma unit at Hacettepe University hospital, speaking to the Anatolia
- A small Marxist group, MLKP-FESK, claimed responsibility
for the Ankara blast, private NTV television reported. Police would not
comment on the report.
- Bush is scheduled to meet Sunday with Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in Ankara.
- Militant Islamic, Kurdish and leftist groups have carried
out past attacks in Turkey, and scores of people believed to be linked
to such groups have been detained in security sweeps in recent weeks.
- Concerns about security have grown in Turkey since November,
when four suicide truck bombings killed more than 60 people in attacks
on two synagogues, the British consulate and a London-based bank. Prosecutors
say a Turkish al-Qaida-linked cell carried out those attacks.
- Turkish security forces are using concrete barriers to
seal off a zone in the heart of Istanbul and surveillance aircraft are
being prepared to help monitor a no-fly zone over the area where the NATO
meeting is being held.
- The Bosporus will also be closed to oil traffic ahead
of the summit.
- © The Canadian Press 2004