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Europe

Separatists Bomb Turkish Resort

With Europe on red alert after the terror attacks on London last week, frayed nerves were rattled in Turkey when a bomb went off in a Turkish seaside resort on Sunday, injuring 20 people, one of them critically.

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The Cesme bomb is the latest in a long line of attacks in Turkey

A splinter group of the banned Kurdish Workers' Party, the PKK, has claimed responsibility for the bomb saying that the attack is part of a campaign to discourage tourists from visiting Turkey and thus damage the Turkish economy.

Officials in the Turkish resort of Cesme said the bomb was placed in a waste-bin outside a bank. One of the injured who was sitting nearby said that he had seen two people drop a black nylon bag in to the bin about 30 minutes before the blast. Television reports described the bomb as a simple home-made device.

Cesme, on the Aegean Sea, is a popular resort among local Turks, especially day-trippers from the nearby town of Izmir. But it's also frequented by foreign tourists, mainly Germans, although the only two foreigners injured in this attack were said to be British and Russian.

Foreigners injured

"A Briton was among the casualties and received minor injuries," a spokeswoman from the ministry said after the blast on Sunday. "We understand he was later released from hospital," the spokeswoman added, without revealing the injured man's name.

Yusuf Ziya Goksu, the governor of the surrounding Izmir province, was later quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying the Briton was John Willoughby, 63, and the Russian Alexander Danilik, 44.

Militant arm of PKK claims responsibility

Öcalan

The group which has claimed responsibility, the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks, or TAK, is a militant offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, which is banned in Turkey. The PKK's leader Abdullah Öcalan (photo) is Turkey's most high-profile prisoner and his internment has been a further catalyst for escalations in violence.

A person claiming to be from the group phoned the Mezopotamya news agency, which is regarded as a mouthpiece for the PKK, and said that such attacks on tourist areas would continue.

The agency said that the TAK had warned the authorities before the blast. The TAK has carried out several attacks since August last year, mostly in tourist resorts. It has called on foreigners not to visit Turkey, in an attempt to damage the tourism industry which is the country's largest foreign currency earner, producing around 13 billion euros ($16 billion) last year from 17.5 million foreign tourists.

Battle for independence

In the 15 years of the PKK's war against the Turkish state 36,000 people have died in the organization's attempt to win independence for the Kurdish areas of the country. The PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire in 1999, but called off the truce last year. The organization has now stepped up its military campaign, with 50 Turkish soldiers having been killed in the last month.

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