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Car Bombs Responsible for Istanbul Explosions, Says Turkey - 2003-11-20

Turkey's Interior Minister says car bombs were probably responsible for the explosions that hit the British consulate and a London-based bank. Officials say at least 25 people are dead, including the British consul- general. Nearly 400 people are reported injured in the attacks.

Foreign minister Abdullah Gul said Turkey would continue to fight against the terror wracking his country.

"Now we are faced with organized terrorist attacks," he said. "Unfortunately again we lost so many innocent people, but we will continue to fight against terrorism."

The first blast, at around 9:00 a.m. local time, destroyed part of the British HSBC bank headquarters in the modern financial district of Levent. The second blast, apparently caused by a car filled with explosives, demolished part of the British consulate in the busy central district of Beyoglu.

A British diplomat and the U.S. ambassador to Turkey have confirmed that British Consul General Roger Short was among those who died.

U.S. ambassador Eric Edelman said he has expressed the condolences of the United States to senior Turkish and British officials.

"This is, I think, a terrible deed by people who are attacking the very roots of the civilization that we all share," said ambassador Edelman. "And I am hopeful that we can be helpful to the Turkish authorities. And of course, our condolences go out to all those who lost their lives today and to their families."

Turkey's justice minister, Cemil Cicek, said the bombings were similar to the suicide car bombings of two Istanbul synagogues last Saturday. "It is understood that the violent method used last week was used in these incidents as well," he said.

The Anatolia news agency reported an anonymous caller said the attacks were a joint action by al-Qaida and a small Turkish Islamic group known as the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders Front.

Related groups claimed responsibility for the synagogue attacks five-days ago, which killed at least 23 people and wounded hundreds.