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Turkey

Kurdish group denies Turkey bombing

Kurdish separatist group PKK denied responsibility for a bombing in Turkey yesterday that killed nine people. The announcement by the group means the perpetrators behind the bombing remain unknown.

The Turkish government initially blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for Monday's explosion in the southeast Turkey town of Gaziantep, which officials said was triggered by remote control.

"Our fighters have nothing to do with this explosion," Firat News, a website known to be close to the PKK, cited the group saying in a statement. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States, among others. Several Turkish officials indicated Monday that they believed the PKK was responsible for the blast.

Violence has plagued Turkey's volatile southeast, where Kurdish separatist have been clashing on-and-off with the Turkish military since 1984. About 45,000 people have died as a result of the fighting. Gaziantep, located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the border with Syria, had previously been spared the brunt of the violence that has wracked the region.

While the exact perpetrators remain unknown, focus swiftly turned to the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), a group similar to the PKK that in the past has carried out attacks outside the PKK's normal area of operation. No hard evidence could immediately link the group to the bombing, however.

In addition to the nine killed, including four children, some 69 people were wounded in the blast. On Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to visit Gaziantep to survey the damage, said deputy prime minister Besir Atalay.

bm/mz (AFP, Reuters)