Turkey targeted in bomb attacks

Turkish government and ruling party offices came under bomb and missile attack overnight in what a deputy prime minister said on Wednesday could be an attempt to wreck a peace process with Kurdish militants.

Early on Wednesday, a small bomb exploded near state offices on the Asian side of Istanbul, damaging windows but resulting in no casualties, while police defused separate explosives in front of a cultural center in the city.

Hours earlier, unidentified assailants attacked the Justice Ministry and offices of the ruling AK Party with homemade bombs and a shoulder-fired missile in the capital Ankara. One person was slightly wounded in the ministry attack. There have been no claims of responsibility.

The explosions occurred before an expected ceasefire call on Thursday by jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has been in talks with state officials to try to end a three-decade-old conflict that has killed some 40,000 people.

The ceasefire call, expected to coincide with the Kurdish New Year, would be a major step in what is shaping up to be the most serious effort yet to end Turkey’s conflict with
Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.

“Various groups that we know to be against the (peace) process could have chosen these targets,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters. “I think this could have been done to frighten and intimidate the public.”

The struggle with the PKK, considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union as well as Ankara, burns at Turkey’s heart, and there are forces on both sides opposed to a resolution.

Speaking in Denmark, where he is on an official visit, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the authorities had uncovered “important information” about the attacks and would comment further later, according to Turkish television.

Arinc said the leftist DHKP-C (Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front), one of whose members blew himself up at an entrance of the US embassy on February 1, killing a Turkish guard, could be responsible. “Some of the evidence gathered last night suggests the DHKP-C could have carried out this action,” he said.

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