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Straw In Turkey After Bombings Kill At Least 27 - 2003-11-21


Britain's foreign minister has arrived in Turkey hours after bomb blasts at the British consulate and a London-based bank killed 27 people and wounded 450 others in Istanbul.

Jack Straw says he was asked by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush to express their condolences and outrage at the attacks to the Turkish people. He plans to visit the consulate today and the building that housed the offices of HSBC Friday.

The Istanbul governor says attackers blew up two pickup trucks carrying explosives, in apparently coordinated attacks that came minutes apart. The British consul-general in Istanbul (Roger Short) was among those killed in the consulate bombing.

Britain issued a warning against all but essential travel to Turkey. The United States said there was a chance of more attacks and closed its consulate in Istanbul for all but emergency business.

Turkey's prime minister (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) promised to increase the country's efforts against terrorism and said the police would track down those responsible for the bombings.

Five days ago, 25 people died in suicide bombings outside two synagogues in Istanbul. The bombers in those attacks have been identified as Turkish men who share the philosophy of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

A caller to Turkey's Anatolia news agency claimed that al-Qaida and a Turkish Islamic militant group (Great Eastern Islamic Raiders Front) were responsible for today's (Thursday's) blasts. The claim could not be confirmed.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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