Istanbul attacks: Turkish PM vows to defeat ''terrorists'' after at least 27 killed, including top British diplomat
At least 27 people were killed and about 500 wounded as two huge bomb blasts took place near the British consulate and the London-based HSBC banking HQ in Istanbul.
A spokesman for the Turkish government confirmed two explosions took place Thursday morning in northern Istanbul, contrary to earlier media reports, which reported on four blasts.
A man calling the Anatolia news agency claimed that Al-Qaeda and the Islamic IBDA-C group carried out the attacks.
According to media reports, suicide bombers, using two explosives-laden trucks, carried out these attacks.
Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that Turkey would defeat "terrorists" and he deplored the timing of the attacks, during Ramadan.
"Those who bloodied this holy day and massacred innocent people will account for it in both worlds," he said. "They will be damned until eternity."
Turkey's Justice Minister Cemil Cicek confirmed these reports. "It is understood that the violent method used last week was used in these incidents as well," Cicek told reporters in Ankara. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told Anatolia that Turkey would not bow to "terror".
The large 23-storey HSBC Headquarters in the city was torn apart in one attack - at least five people have died but the death toll was expected to rise. According to witnesses, the explosion "sounded like an earthquake".
The front of the British consulate was also reported to have been ripped off. A British embassy official said "things looked bad" with considerable damage to the consulate.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described the blasts as "appalling acts of terrorism" that bore "all the hallmarks" of Al-Qaeda and associated groups.
Straw said "three or four" people had failed to attend a roll call at the consulate. British Consul-General Roger Short was missing, but later he was reported dead. Straw was scheduled to arrive in Istanbul Thursday evening.
About four hours after the attacks, the British PM, Tony Blair, standing beside George Bush, confirmed there would be British victims. "Once again we are reminded of the evil these people pose to innocent people, to our way of life," the British leader stated. He said there "would be no holding back" in the war on terror util it was "defeated utterly" - and no pause in the campaign in Iraq.
On his part, Bush said the US "would not bow" to the attempts to "intimidate or demoralize" the West.
Following the bombings, the Turkish stock exchange has stopped trading.
Thursday's blasts came after at least 23 people died in a twin bomb attack on two synagogues in Istanbul on Saturday. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)