Female suicide bomber kills 3, wounds 20 in SE Turkey

Blast occurs at tea house close to office of ruling AK Party in town in mainly Kurdish region; police hunt for further suspected bomber.

October 29, 2011 18:05
2 minute read.
Flames seen in street after bomb blast in Ankara

Ankara blast R 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/ Omer Kaya)

BINGOL - A female suicide bomber in southeast Turkey killed three people and wounded around 20 in Bingol, a town in the mainly Kurdish region on Saturday, police said.

The blast occurred at a tea house close to the office of the ruling AK Party in the town's main street at around 1.20 p.m. (1020 GMT), Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said.

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Police said the woman had detonated explosives strapped to her body. They also said they were hunting for another suspected bomber, and a cordon had been thrown round the town, 110 km north of Diyarbakir, the region's main city.

"It was a very quiet. There was nothing extraordinary. There were no policeman, no (paramilitary) gendarme in the street," one bystander told Reuters.

"Suddenly we heard an explosion and screaming. People ran towards there to help people injured. Then we saw paramedics coming," he added.

Turkey is fighting a long-running separatist insurgency in the southeast, and the blast comes as the government is trying to provide relief to thousands of people made homeless by a powerful earthquake in the largely Kurdish Van province.

Sahin was addressing a news conference in Van, where he is part of the team overseeing relief work.

In Diyarbakir, police used water cannons to disperse stone-throwing youths in a protest as the bodies of 24 Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members killed in a military operation more than a week ago were held in a morgue in nearby Malatya town.

The military killed 49 in total after mounting a hunt for militants on the border with northern Iraq, after 24 Turkish soldiers were killed in simultaneous attacks on their posts in Hakkari, the most southeasterly province.

In Hakkari on Saturday, soldiers shot a mule they suspected militants had packed with explosives and sent towards them. They later detonated the explosives on the dead animal.

The PKK has carried out suicide attacks like the one in Bingol during its armed campaign for Kurdish self-rule but splinter groups have often claimed responsibility for such attacks in recent years.

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