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Blast Kills 5 in Mainly Kurdish City in Turkey


In southern Turkey, an explosion has killed at least five people and injured 70. The explosion occurred in the main city in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of the country, where Turkey accuses rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, of launching attacks. Dorian Jones reports for VOA from Istanbul, no one has claimed responsibility for the blast.

In the center of the city of Diyarbakir, authorities say a car bomb exploded near a Turkish military bus, which burst into flames.

The explosion occurred near a large shopping mall and luxury hotel.

Emergency services rushed to the scene.

The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the bombing.

He said terrorism has reared its ugly head again. But he said such attacks will not affect Turkey's determination to fight terrorism, both at home and abroad.

Turkish authorities say they suspect militants belonging to the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, of being behind the blast, although no claim of responsibility has been made.

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's mainly-Kurdish southeast since 1984. That violence has killed more than 30,000 people.

Last week, police say, a PKK member was caught in Istanbul carrying a bomb while en route to attack a large shopping center. Security forces have been bracing themselves for potential attacks by the PKK, following Turkish air strikes against Kurdish militant bases in neighboring northern Iraq.

The air strikes were in retaliation for a series of PKK attacks in the last few months, which killed scores of Turkish soldiers and civilians.

Turkey has massed around 100,000 soldiers along the Iraqi border.

The United States and European Union have designated the PKK a terrorist group.

On Tuesday, U.S. President George Bush is scheduled to host his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, in Washington. According to Turkish officials, top of the agenda will be Turkey's fight against the PKK.