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Bombings in Turkey: TAK, Not Hezbollah, Tops the Suspect List

3 MINS READAug 4, 2006 | 21:35 GMT
Two bombs exploded within minutes of one another Aug. 4 in the southern Turkish city of Adana, injuring 13 people. Although the fighting in Lebanon has prompted concerns that Hezbollah will attack Jews or Israeli diplomatic targets in other countries, these bombings likely have no Hezbollah connection. Instead the attack likely was the work of Kurdish militants who are escalating their campaign against the Turkish government. The first bomb, the smaller of the two, exploded at a bank in downtown Adana, injuring two bank security guards. About 10 minutes later, a second, larger device detonated at a nearby construction site, damaging nearby shops and police cars, and injuring at least five police officers. It appears the attackers detonated the smaller device with the intention of drawing Turkish police and security forces into the area, and then set off the second explosion to take out these first responders. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the explosions, but Turkey has often been the scene of bomb attacks attributed to left-wing groups, Islamist militants and Kurdish separatists.
Turkey's good relations with Israel make it a frequent destination for Israeli tourists. The country also borders Iran and has both Iranian and Israeli diplomatic facilities. For these reasons, it is considered to be at some risk of an anti-Israel attack. As a popular tourist destination — and the closest town to nearby U.S. Incirlik Air Base — Adana could be on foreign militants' list of potential targets. However, because the real target of the latest bombings appears to be the Turkish security forces, the attack doubtfully was staged by Hezbollah or other outside group. Details of the attack suggest this was the work of the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), which has been waging a campaign against Turkey's economy, specifically its tourist industry, since August 2005. Adana has been the scene of attacks attributed to TAK and other militants before. In January, a bomb exploded in a building used by the Turkish-U.S. Association, injuring four people, though none seriously. In September 2005, a bomb exploded on a bus traveling between Adana and the nearby resort town of Antalya, killing two Turks and injuring 10. TAK is not known to use secondary bombs in its attacks, preferring instead to set off individual smaller bombs in an effort to discourage tourists from visiting Turkey. This latest attack, therefore, could indicate that TAK is escalating its campaign against the Turkish government. In recent months, TAK and the Kurdistan Workers' Party have been staging bolder attacks in their campaign against Ankara. Despite increased fighting between Turkish troops and Kurdish militants in eastern Turkey, the militants still have been able to carry out — and even escalate — attacks. Ankara, which understands the tourism industry's importance to the country's economy, likely is sparing no effort to prevent attacks and eliminate the TAK threat. Thus far, however, the Turkish National Police and intelligence agencies have been unable to do either. With little to stop it, the TAK can be expected to escalate its campaign against Ankara.

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