ANKARA, Turkey – A bomb destroyed a minibus Saturday near a popular Aegean Sea beach in western Turkey, killing four people, including at least one foreigner.
There were conflicting reports about the number of tourists killed and whether the bombing was a suicide attack.
The British Foreign Office in London said a British citizen was killed and five others were injured. Separately, a regional governor said an Irish tourist was killed, and Turkish police said two Irish tourists were among the dead.
Fourteen people were injured in the blast in Kusadasi, 45 miles south of the port city of Izmir.
The Anatolia news agency reported that the device exploded in the lap of a female bomber. A police official in Kusadasi said preliminary evidence pointed to a Turkish female suicide bomber, whose body was torn apart by the force of the bomb. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because superior officers had not granted permission to speak publicly.
However, the deputy governor of Aydin province, Nurdogan Kaya, said the bombing was traced to a package planted on the minibus. Other officials said the bomb could have been placed under the woman’s seat.
Kaya said the dead included an Irish tourist and a Turkish citizen. discrepancy could not immediately be resolved.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Kurdish rebels recently have carried out bombings in Aegean resort towns. On April 30, a bomb hidden inside a cassette player killed a police officer in Kusadasi.
Speaking shortly after the explosion, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was taking anti-terror measures, but added that “it is not possible to stop it 100 percent, no matter how strict security measures you take.”
A top Kurdish rebel commander, Zubeyir Aydar, condemned the attack to the Germany-based Mezopotamya News Agency, which often carries rebel statements.
The blast tore off the bus’ roof and sides as it traveled through the town square, just a few yards from the shore. Civilians ran to the burning wreckage after the attack and carried away the injured.
Ali Baris, the governor of Kusadasi, said the explosion killed at least four people, including two women, and injured 14, including several who were in critical condition.
A doctor at Kusadasi State Hospital said three foreign tourists were among the dead, and five foreign tourists were injured critically.
The police official said two of the dead were foreigners. The discrepancy could not immediately be resolved, and the foreigners’ identities were not released.
The five injured tourists were transferred to Izmir for treatment, the doctor said on condition of anonymity because Turkish civil servants are not permitted to speak to the press without prior authorization.
The British Foreign Office said three Britons suffered serious injuries and two had minor injuries.
Police Chief Yilmaz Orhan of Aydin province, which includes Kusadasi, said the British tourists were the only foreigners injured in the blast.
Civilians ran to the bus after the attack and carried the injured away from the burning wreckage.
Private NTV television reported that police suspect that C-4 plastic explosives were used in the attack, and authorities had information that an attack could occur in Kusadasi.
Turkish military and intelligence officials have said Kurdish rebels possessed hundreds of pounds of C-4 obtained from
Earlier this month, a bomb hidden in a soda can wounded 21 people, including three foreign tourists, in the Aegean coastal town of Cesme.
A Kurdish guerrilla group calling itself the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons Organization or TAK claimed credit for the prior attacks in Cesme and Kusadasi, and it vowed to maintain attacks against tourist areas.
Kurdish rebels have carried out several suicide bomb attacks since 1996, when six soldiers were killed in the eastern city of Tunceli.
In 1999, two female suicide bombers carried out separate attacks injuring 27 people. The attacks, which targeted police stations, came after the capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Since 1984, the Turkish military has been battling rebels of Ocalan’s autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in the overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast, a conflict that has claimed some 37,000 lives.
Fighting in the region tapered off after a rebel truce in 1999, which followed Ocalan’s capture. But there has been a surge in violence since June 1, 2004, when the rebels declared an end to their cease-fire, saying Turkey had not responded in kind.
TAK is believed to be linked to the PKK.