Second Al Qaida strike in a week on Turkey is similar to first

Friday, November 21, 2003

ANKARA Al Qaida launched its second major strike against Turkey in less than a week, killing at least 27 people in a suicide car bombing. Thursday's attack targeted British interests; Last week's bombing took aim at Jewish synagogues.

Turkish security sources suspected Al Qaida agents used two pickup trucks for coordinated suicide strikes in Istanbul on Thursday. The targets were the British consulate and the headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank. British Consul General Roger Short was killed in the bombing.

About 400 people were injured in the bombings, which took place within five minutes of each other. Later, an anonymous caller said Al Qaida claimed responsibility.

Both Britain and the United States have warned of additional attacks in Turkey, Middle East Newsline reported. The two countries have warned their nationals to avoid travel to certain places in Turkey.

Officials said the bombings were similar to those that killed 23 people in Istanbul on Saturday. The targets of the first suicide attacks were two Turkish synagogues.

"It seems the attacks have been conducted with the same barbaric methods," Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said.

It was the first time Al Qaida had claimed responsibility for a bombing attack in Turkey immediately after the strike. An anonymous caller to the semi-official Anatolia news agency said Al Qaida and the Iranian-backed Islamic Great Eastern Raiders' Front, or IBDA-C, carried out the attack. The same two groups claimed responsibility for the Istanbul synagogue strikes.

The latest strike caused havoc in Turkey's financial markets. Trading on the Turkish stock market was suspended as banks near HSBC, the second largest financial institution in the world, halted operations.

Turkish officials said that Ankara suspects that the latest suicide strikes were planned by Al Qaida in neighboring Iran. The officials said Al Qaida has apparently recruited Turkish insurgents to identify and carry out the attacks with financing and technical aid from Al Qaida.

Al Qaida operations chief Seif Al Adel was said to have revived operations throughout the Middle East from Iran. The Islamic republic has acknowledged that it has detained high-level Al Qaida members, but has not identified them.

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