Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turkish parliament orders inquiry into bombing

Turkish parliament orders inquiry into bombing
23 Nov 2005

ANKARA, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Turkey's parliament gave the go-ahead on Wednesday for an investigation into a bookshop bombing in Turkey's troubled southeast that many blamed on security forces and sparked weeks of violence.

One person was killed in the Nov. 9 bombing in the town of Semdinli and several more died in clashes it triggered between pro-Kurdish protesters and security forces.

It is rare for parliament to launch probes into incidents allegedly involving the military or police and the vote in parliament was taken by raising hands during a special session.

But Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu told parliament it was the government's duty to find out what happened in Semdinli.

The parliamentary commission was approved by the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party and the main opposition parties.

Bombing suspects detained by police turned out to be intelligence agents of the gendarmerie -- a paramilitary force responsible for rural security -- fuelling suspicions that men in uniform may be taking the law into their own hands.

A top Turkish general has angrily rejected claims that bombers acted on the orders of senior military commanders, the Hurriyet daily said on Wednesday.

"I strongly reject (the claims that the order came from Ankara)," General Yasar Buyukanit told Hurriyet in the first detailed public response by Turkey's powerful military.

Buyukanit, who heads Turkey's Land Forces, said he believed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) carried out the bombing, along with others in the region in recent weeks, but declined to comment further as a legal process is now under way.

"We respect the decision of the court," Buyukanit said.

He also denied any attempt to cover up what happened, noting that two gendarmes released by prosecutors after initial questioning would still stand trial over their alleged role.

Critics of Turkey's authorities say the bombing may have been engineered by hardliners as a "provocation" to help create the atmosphere for a crackdown on Kurdish groups in the region. The bookshop was reported to be owned by a former PKK member.


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