Blasts rock Istanbul hotels, gas plant; two killed
Explosions hit two small tourist hotels and a gas plant in Istanbul early Tuesday in apparent "terrorist strikes", killing two people and injuring seven others, police said.
The blasts came amid tightened security concerns in Turkey, the focus of earlier attacks including four suicide truck bombings in November blamed on al-Qaeda that killed more than 60 people in Istanbul.
Workers at the Pars hotel said they received an anonymous call only 10 minutes before the explosion, saying there was a bomb in a room.
"It appears to be a terrorist attack," Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah said of the blasts, according to the Anatolia news agency.
Police cordoned off the area around the hotel, only a few hundred yards from the Saint Sophia and the Sultanahmet mosque. Glass and concrete littered the streets behind the hotel.
The other target, Holiday Hotel, is located in the Laleli district, home to inexpensive hotels and clothing stores catering to eastern European tourists. The three-story hotel was hosting 20 guests at the time of the explosion, officials said.
Authorities said a fire at the liquefied petroleum gas plant, where cooking gas canisters were filled, was under control, private NTV television reported. The two bomb blasts at the plant, on the outskirts of Istanbul, took place a half hour apart and shortly after an anonymous bomb threat, police said. There were no casualties, plant officials said. (Albawaba.com)
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