Turkish authorities arrested a number of suspects Friday in connection tothe deadly suicide bombings on the British consulate and a London-based bank the day before that have been blamed on al-Qaeda. Foreign governments warned that Turkey could be the target of still more terrorist attacks.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul confirmed some arrests had been made in connection with Thursday's attacks but declined to give details, The AP reported.
The announcement, made in a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, came as the Foreign Office in London warned of additional attacks in Turkey and tightened its travel advice to Istanbul and the country's other major cities.
Straw said the attacks were "as much an attack on Turkish people as Britain's interests".
Visiting the HSBC site, he said the blasts were carried out by al Qaeda "associates", describing the strikes as "an attack on civilisation" by "ruthless fanatics".
"In our heart and soul we have to decide we are going to fight this terrorism," he told reporters.
On its part, the daily newspaper Hurriyet said Friday that police had detained and were interrogating seven people. The newspaper quoted police sources tentatively identifying the two bombers who drove Thursday's truck bombs as two Turkish men: Azad Ekinci, 27, and Feridun Ugurlu.
It said Ekinci and Ugurlu traveled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on Oct. 28 and identified Ekinci as a schoolmate of one of the men suspected in last Saturday's synagogue bombings.
Meanwhile, a unit of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network said it carried out the the twin suicide bomb attacks on British interests in Istanbul.
Abu Hafz al-Masri Brigades - which also claimed to have carried out the bombing of two synagogues on Saturday - said it had targeted the UK to "shatter the peace of Britain... which battles Islam".
"The Abu Hafz al-Masri Brigades targeted the British consul, Roger Short, because of his extensive experience in combating Islam and because he is considered the mastermind of British policy in the region comprising Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran," the statement said.
"Our cars of death struck the consulate building. As for the British bank headquarters, this is a bastion of the British economy and let Britain and its people know that is alliance with America will not bring it prosperity or security."
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)