Turkish Suicide Attacker Kills Herself
May. 20, 2003
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ A suspected leftist suicide attacker was killed Tuesday after her bomb apparently exploded prematurely in the restroom of a cafe in Turkey's capital, the interior minister said. One other person was wounded.
The semiofficial Anatolia news agency quoted Abdulkadir Aksu as saying authorities found two batteries, a triggering device, and an explosive material at the cafe in central Ankara, suggesting a suicide attack. It appeared that the bomb had gone off early and the cafe may not have been the target.
``While she was putting the bomb on herself in the restroom, it exploded,'' Aksu said. ``After putting it on, she was probably going to leave and go somewhere else.''
The explosion at Crocodile Cafe, which occupied two floors of a 10-story building in Ankara's commercial district of Kizilay, shattered walls and windows in the building.
``I could see bits of flesh thrown all over the place,'' said Ali Vehbi, a student who arrived at the scene shortly after the blast, as he pointed to blood on a window opposite the cafe.
Aksu identified the bomber as Sengul Akkurt, a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front or DHKP-C, a banned Marxist group. Police recovered Akkurt's mutilated remains in the debris of the restroom
There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing.
Aksu cautioned the explosion was still being investigated, but said a suicide bomber appeared the most likely explanation.
Anatolia said Akkurt, from the southeastern province of Malatya, had been detained in 1994 and spent time in prison for her membership in DHKP-C, and that she had been wanted since 2000 on unspecified charges.
Anatolia, citing senior police sources, said a police officer in plain clothes but carrying a walkie-talkie had been in the cafe just before the explosion. Police were also investigating if the woman may have panicked and set off the bomb.
Anatolia said the suspected bomber sat at one of the tables at the cafe and ate several bites of pudding before going to the restroom.
The cafe, which also served fast food, was popular with students. It was not clear how many people were in the cafe at the time of the blast.
``It was such a terrifying explosion that we all ducked and hid under the tables,'' said Gokhan Ekinci who works at a travel agency just above the cafe. ``We were all shaking.''
The DHKP-C has claimed responsibility for a number of assassinations and bombings since the 1970s. The group is also leading a nationwide hunger strike, in which 65 people have died since October 2000, to protest Turkey's maximum security prison system.
In 2001, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Istanbul that killed four people, including an Australian woman and the bomber.
Radical leftist, Kurdish and Islamic groups are also active in the country and have carried out bombings in the past.