British Consul General Among Dead In Istanbul Blasts
Istanbul, 20 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Turkish authorities say
at least 26 people were killed and about 450 wounded today in
twin explosions in busy downtown districts of Istanbul.
Trucks loaded with explosives reportedly blew up in front
of the British consulate and a building housing the British-based
international HSBC bank office.
At least 15 people were reported killed in the consulate,
including British Consul General Roger Short. According to
witnesses' accounts, he was entering the building as a van
trying to force its way through the compound gates exploded.
In another near simultaneous blast the facade of the HSBC
18-story office building was sheared after a truck packed with
explosives was detonated in front of the offices.
Pinar Yildiz, a reporter from Turkish Number 1 TV, was on
the scene at the HSBC bank and told RFE/RL that the ground
was covered with the blood of victims.
tried to get their way through, those who were lying on the
were covered with blood. I think there
were many casualties. It was very bad. The women at the bank
said the same. They said they were trying to contact [someone
outside] but could not. They were many wounded. We took them
to Acibadem Hospital in Etiler [district]."
More casualties are feared as rescue workers continue to go
through the rubble.
A caller to Turkey's semiofficial Anatolian news agency claimed
joint responsibility for the attacks on behalf of Al-Qaeda
and the local militant Islamic Great Eastern Raiders' Front.
Turkish authorities said they believe the same groups were
behind the 15 November synagogue bombings in Istanbul, which
killed 23 people and two attackers and wounded more than 300.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said today in Sweden that Turkey
not "bow to terror."
Anatolian news agency quoted Gul as saying that the explosions
to be linked. "Everyone must know
that we will not give up to terrorism," Gul said.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in London that today's
attacks and other targets in Istanbul bore all the hallmarks
has happened in Istanbul this morning are clearly appalling
acts of terrorism. We still, obviously,
do not have complete details, by any means, but it appears...[the]
bomb blasts [were] coordinated."
Straw said Britain was checking on several of its consulate
employees who might have been affected by the attack.
The United Sates is following closely the situation in Istanbul,
said a White House spokesman who is accompanying the U.S. President
George W. Bush on a state visit to Britain.
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