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[updated] Once again, Turkey has been targeted by terrorists. This morning several explosions rocked Istanbul Turkey, apparently part of two or more major attacks that hit the HSBC bank, the British Consulate and apparently, the Metro City shopping center, other targets. Earlier reports described four or five explosions. Later reports claimed there were only two. At least 27 people have died and 400 injured according to latest reports, including the British Consul. British stores were hit in the Metro City shopping center, including Marks and Spencer.
There is no doubt now that the attacks were aimed at Turkey because of the pro-Western and pro-Israel policies of the Turkish government. Turkish Foreign Minister Gul said that Turkey would not bow to terror, and Turkish sources that the attacks are a declaration of war on the free world, and that Turkey would be strengthened in its alliance with the West and with Israel.
The targets were all foreign interests. The blasts, like those of last Saturday which targeted synagogues, are probably part of the wave of Al-Qaida violence that was foreseen for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It is also possible that the blasts targeted the British consulate "in honor" of President George Bush's visit to Great Britain. However, experts point out that Al-Qaida terror hits are usually planned a very long time in advance. It is also likely that these blasts were planned before the war in Iraq, according to analysts. Today's blasts confirm the surmise of this writer, that Saturday's attacks on the synagogues had nothing to do with antisemitism, despite the belief voiced by so many in Israel. They are much worse than antisemitism, because they are an attempt to enforce the idea that the problems between the West and Muslim countries are due to a culture war. The attackers want to restore the xenophobia of a bygone era, and prevent any rapprochement in the "war of civilizations."
Needless to say, the association of these attacks with the holy month of Ramadan is obscene.
As with every such barbaric attack, I must repeat at the risk of boring my readers, that attacks against civilians are inexcusable, and that attacks like this can only take place, in part, because the international community, including "peace" activists, are not willing to speak out against violence, and to create an international morality that unequivocally condemns murder of civilians for any reason.
Powerful blasts kill at least 27 in Istanbul
Thursday, November 20, 2003 Posted: 1:09 PM EST (1809 GMT)
Map: Blast sites in Istanbul
ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Powerful explosions ripped through the British Consulate and a London-based bank near a popular shopping area in Istanbul Thursday -- killing at least 27 people and wounding more than 450 others, Turkish officials said.
Seventeen people were killed at the consulate and 10 in the shopping area in the neighborhood of Levent, the Turkish Interior Ministry said.
Consul General Roger Short was among those killed, said Ian Sherwood, chaplain of the British Consulate. One of the main buildings was "completely demolished," he said.
It was the second coordinated attack in Istanbul in the last week. On Saturday, 25 people were killed in car bombings of two synagogues. (Full story)
Video from the scene of Thursday's attacks showed shattered windows along the narrow streets near the consulate and some areas reduced rubble. People could be seen trying to remove debris by hand from around buried cars and rescuers with search dogs were searching for survivors.
Another blast, outside an HBSC bank, ripped the facade off the tall building. Video of a nearby shopping mall showed chaos with people streaming out of the area, some with bloody faces and blood-soaked clothes. Shattered glass and burned vehicles littered the street. (Full story)
Sherwood said the consulate had been "secure as possible," but that the bombing was "huge." He said his house down the street shook, and the whole neighborhood was damaged.
Turkish officials said that bombing, in the Levent neighborhood, occurred shortly before 11 a.m. (4 a.m. ET).
Witnesses said they thought suicide attackers used explosive-packed vehicles.
A spokesman for Britain's HBSC bank said two of the bank's buildings were struck.
"They seem to be organized international terrorism," Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said following Thursday's attacks. Dirioz said his government will "fight against all sorts of international terrorists."
Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu told reporters there were similarities between Thursday's attacks and Saturday's car bombings of the two synagogues. "Probably some trucks were used in carrying explosives" Thursday, Aksu said.
Local officials said the attacks seem to have been substantially larger than Saturday's.
Shortly after Thursday's bombings, a government office in Istanbul received a phone call claiming to be from al Qaeda and a Turkish Islamic militant group --the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (IBDA-C) -- claiming joint responsibility, CNN Turk reported. (Expert: Al Qaeda to blame)
IBDA-C also claimed responsibility for Saturday's synagogue bombings, which killed 23 people in addition to two suicide bombers. But Turkish officials said the synagogue attacks were carried out by two Turkish nationals linked to a group in Afghanistan which may have ties to al Qaeda.
Aksu warned against speculation on which group is responsible for the attacks, saying that could hamper the investigation. (Full story)
Speaking in London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called the attacks "appalling acts of terrorism" which have "all the hallmarks" of an al Qaeda attack.
U.S. officials said Thursday they have seen multiple claims of responsibility for the attacks. "Al Qaeda is always a good guess though," said a senior official, "based on the targets, the modus operandi and so on."
President Bush was in London on a state visit. He and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at a joint news conference, condemned the blasts and vowed to defeat terrorism.
"Cruelty is part of their strategy. The terrorists hope to intimidate. They hope to demoralize," said Bush. "They're not going to succeed. Great Britain, America and other free nations are united today in our grief and united in our determination to fight and defeat this evil wherever it is found."
Said Blair, "We must affirm that in the face of this terrorism there must be no holding back, no compromise, no hesitation in confronting this menace, in attacking it wherever and whenever we can, and in defeating it utterly." (Full story)
A White House spokesman said Washington is monitoring the situation.
Straw told the House of Commons that the country is taking measures to step up security at facilities at home and abroad.
Aksu said Turkey was banning media coverage at the sites "to investigate the incident more properly." It was not clear how much coverage would be curtailed.
The United States and Britain warned their citizens to proceed cautiously in Istanbul after the attacks.
Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 13:55 GMT
Many die in Istanbul blasts
Bomb attacks on the British consulate and the HSBC bank headquarters in Istanbul have left at least 25
British Consul-General Roger Short was among at least 14 people killed in the attack on the consulate, its chaplain Ian Sherwood said.
Both attacks are believed to have been carried out by suicide bombers. Witnesses reported seeing a van
The explosions follow last Saturday's suicide bomb attacks against two synagogues in Istanbul that killed 23 people.
Responding to news of the blasts, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said there could be "no holding back" in
US President George Bush said the bombers had shown "utter contempt" for human life.
Istanbul is a city in chaos, the BBC's Steve Bryant says.
There is collapsed masonry, shattered windows, burned out cars and general scenes of confusion at the two sites. Much of the city's phone network has been cut.
Hospitals are inundated with hundreds of wounded people, traffic is blocking the roads and crisis
HSBC said that "a number" of its staff had been killed.
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the attacks they bore all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda and ssociated
A man who called the semi-official Anatolia news agency claimed that al-Qaeda and the Turkish Islamic
The 15-storey headquarters of the London-based bank towers over a busy shopping area, which correspondents say would have been crowded when the explosion occurred at 1110 Turkish time (0910GMT).
The consulate bomb occurred two minutes later.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abullah Gul said Turkey would not bow to terror.
"We are faced with organised terrorist attacks," he said. "This time it was British interests, last week
Murat Emre Duman was working in a building near the HSBC bank.
He said he saw "yellow smoke" coming out of the tower, and "shattered glass from cars and windows
The explosion killed the 28-year-old wife of a friend, he told BBC News Online.
"I saw her body. My friend doesn't even recognise me. He's in a state of shock."
Trading on the Istanbul stock exchange was suspended after the explosions and the Turkish lira dived on foreign exchange markets.
A group claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda also claimed responsibility for the synagogue attacks last
It warned that new attacks against the US and its allies were being planned.
The Foreign Office in London issued the following number for people to call for information about those
An official from the Israeli consulate in
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw condemned
CNN Turk said there were many wounded, and there
Emergency services reportedly had difficulty
The front of the HSBC building, a towering white
"The damage is very extensive," Chris Kitrinos,
The Istanbul stock exchange was closed after the
Thursday's blasts come after explosions at two
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