Eight arrested over Istanbul bombing: reports

The site of a bomb blast near the office of Turkey's prime minister in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, March 5, 2012. AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

ISTANBUL: Eight people with alleged links to Kurdish rebels have been arrested in a probe into an Istanbul bomb attack this month that wounded 16 people, mostly police officers, media reported on Wednesday.

The suspects were seized in simultaneous crackdowns in seven Turkish provinces, several newspapers reported, without specifying when the arrests took place.

Those arrested include three people suspected of carrying out the March 1 attack, one who was identified as riding the motorcycle used in the bombing, and two others who accompanied him in a car, according to Hurriyet newspaper.

Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for the attack which took place near the headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the paper reported.

"The suspects' affiliation with the PKK has been confirmed," Mutlu was quoted as saying.

About 900 grammes (about two pounds) of explosives, two grenades, two pistols and silencers as well as detonators and PKK documents were seized during the raids, the Sabah and HaberTurk newspapers reported.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the bombing.

The PKK has in the past carried out similar attacks in major western provinces of Turkey, which has been hit in the past by bombings carried out by outlawed armed groups including Kurds, Islamists and leftist extremists.

The Istanbul attack came amid a months-long investigation by Turkish police into what it considers the urban wing of the PKK, with the arrest of hundreds of suspects, mostly Kurdish.

The PKK, regarded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, first took up arms in 1984 for autonomy for the Kurdish population living in southeastern Anatolia.

The conflict has claimed at least 45,000 lives.





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