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Bomb Hits Istanbul Internet Cafe

February 9, 2006

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) _ A bomb tore through an Internet cafe frequented by police Thursday in Istanbul, wounding at least 17 people, including a child.

A hard-line Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, a Kurdish news agency reported.

The explosion took place Thursday afternoon in the cafe on a side street near the riot police headquarters in the Bayrampasa neighborhood.

Coskun Kilic, who helped evacuate some of the victims, said the blast sent chairs into the street and left the cafe filled with smoke.

``I carried seven or more injured,″ Kilic told The Associated Press at the scene. ``Their hair was burnt and two of them, a child and an officer were unconscious and badly injured.″

Police cordoned off the area and ambulances rushed the injured to hospitals.

Istanbul prosecutor Aykut Engin, who inspected the scene of the blast, said seven police officers and 10 civilians were hurt, including a badly injured child.

The Anatolia news agency reported a 13-year-old boy had his legs blown off by the blast.

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons Organization, a hard-line group believed linked to the main Kurdish guerrilla group, the Kurdistan Workers Party, claimed responsibility for the bombing, the Netherlands-based Firat News Agency said on its Web site.

The group has demanded that jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan be moved out of solitary confinement. Ocalan has been in prison on an island near Istanbul since his capture on Feb. 15, 1999.

His guerrilla group and supporters have long expressed concern about Ocalan’s health. But a delegation from the Council of Europe’s committee for the prevention of torture, which visited Ocalan on the island in 1999, said the rebel leader’s cell was well lit and suitably equipped.

Turkey also maintains that doctors closely monitor Ocalan’s health.

The shadowy group has claimed responsibility for a number of bomb attacks in Turkey, including a blast in the Aegean resort town of Cesme last summer that wounded 21 people.

Kurdish guerillas have been fighting for autonomy in the southeast since 1984. The fighting, which has claimed about 37,000 lives, tapered off after a rebel truce in 1999. But violence has surged since June 1, 2004, when the rebels declared an end to the cease-fire, saying Turkey had not responded in kind.

The Kurdistan Workers Party is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.


Associated Press Writer Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara contributed to this report.

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