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Turkey seeking to confirm Al-Qaeda’s hand in blasts

17th November 2003

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday Turkey was trying to confirm reports that al-Qaeda had claimed responsibility for the deadly bomb attacks on synagogues in Istanbul, the CNN Turk news channel reported.

"We also received this information. We are waiting for a confirmation. Once our security forces confirm the issue, the interior ministry will make a detailed statement," Erdogan told reporters, according to CNN Turk.

He was reacting to a statement by the Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which said it received a claim of responsibility from al-Qaeda for the bombings, in which 23 people were killed and about 300 others injured.

"Abu Hafz al-Masri Brigades struck a mortal blow after having kept Jewish intelligence agents under surveillance and determined that five of them were in two synagogues in the centre of Istanbul," al-Qaeda said in an Arabic-language statement e-mailed to the London-based newspaper.

The Abu Hafz al-Masri Brigades - al-Qaeda, named after its military chief killed in US operations in Afghanistan in November 2001 and a copy of whose statement the newspaper sent, implicitly warned of car bombings in the US.

Turkish officials have said they believe that an international terrorist organisation was involved in the Istanbul attacks, and have not ruled the possibility that it might have been al-Qaeda. – Sapa-AFP.
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