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Thursday, November 20, 2003

More bombing attacks in Istanbul

Early numbers are at least 25 killed, and more than 400 wounded
Just days after two synagogues were bombed in Istanbul, trucks packed with explosives blew up near the British Consulate, and another near the Turkish headquarters of HSBC, the world's second-largest international bank, based in London.

HSBC Bank building and its surrounding area is seen after
an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday Nov. 20, 2003.
FoxNews: A man calling the semiofficial Anatolia news agency claimed that Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic Great Eastern Raiders' Front, or IBDA-C, jointly claimed responsibility for attacks.

Currently, the U.S. State Department knows of no Americans killed or hurt in the blast. According to a Reuters report, Istanbul's government said 14 were killed at the British consulate.

The bombings, which occurred five minutes apart, at about 11 a.m., came days after two synagogue bombings there and coincided with President Bush's visit to London. Television reports initially said up to five blasts, but Turkish authorities later confirmed only two.

"We see their utter contempt for innocent life. The terrorists hope to intimidate, they hope to demoralize. They are not going to succeed," Bush said at a news conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Sky Turk reporter Mustafa Azizoglu told Fox News "this is not an ordinary attack," and said "this is the eleventh of September for Istanbul."

A wounded woman is helped after an explosion outside of the
British Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday Nov. 20, 2003.

Azizoglu added that the explosions were "trying to target Western financial institutions."

New York Times: Analysts seized on the timing of strikes on British targets when Blair was at Bush's side.

"Someone wants to convey a very clear message that will go out not only to Britain but to the United States,'' said Gustav Lindstrom at the Institute of Security Studies in Paris.

"Many people will read into this a connection with Britain's effort in Iraq and its special relationship to the United States.''

But Blair insisted his close alliance with Bush was not to blame.

A statement purportedly by a unit of al Qaeda published in a London-based Arabic newspaper on Monday said the organization planned to target "the criminal Bush and his Arab and Western tails -- especially Britain, Italy, Australia and Japan.''

Bush's entourage was speeding toward London's Westminster Abbey for a solemn wreath-laying ceremony as the first pictures of bodies and mangled wreckage on the streets of Istanbul appeared on television. After the ceremony, he met relatives of some of the 53 British soldiers killed in Iraq.

The attacks overshadowed political talks that left the British prime minister again open to criticism that his unflagging support for Bush has won few benefits for Britain.

Blair failed to win breakthroughs on the two most contentious issues -- the treatment of British detainees at the U.S. prison colony at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and U.S. tariffs on steel that the World Trade Organization has ruled illegal.

Amid the tightest security ever seen in the British capital, thousands of anti-war protesters took to the streets to express anger over the Iraq war, which divided Britain.

The Istanbul attacks did not dampen the protests.

"We said before the war that these sorts of attacks would increase as Britain and America were potential targets,'' said Stop the War Coalition's Lindsey German.

"The only way to stop this is not by bombing people but by finding a political solution.''

Protestors gather for an anti-Bush protest
in central London, Thursday Nov. 20, 2003.