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Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 13:21 GMT

World: Europe

Turkey 'unsafe' for tourists

About nine million visitors come to Turkey every year

Tourists are being warned not to visit Turkey by the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK, which says holiday resorts will now be considered legitimate targets.

Bridget Kendall reports: All of Turkey is considered to be a war zone
A pro-Kurdish news agency based in Germany quoted a rebel statement warning tourists that they would no longer be safe in Turkey.

The organisation said its campaign had entered what it called "a new phase" since Turkey's capture last month of the PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

"It is essential that no tourist comes to Turkey, that governments warn their citizens and that travel companies cancel reservations," the statement said.

Tourism is a vital source of revenue for Turkey, which gets about nine million visitors a year, many bound for its Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.

Revenue from tourism was $7bn in 1997.

The Ocalan File
The PKK has targeted tourist destinations in the past, killing and injuring several foreigners but has not done any serious harm to Turkey's tourism industry.

BBC Ankara Correspondent Chris Morris says the warning is inflammatory and threatening but it is not clear whether the PKK has the ability to launch a sustained bombing campaign across the country.


Meanwhile in Turkey's capital, Ankara, two vehicles were damaged in an explosion outside the European Union office.

[ image: Bombings have increased since the capture of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan]
Bombings have increased since the capture of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan
The powerful blast went off near a car in front of the EU mission, which was not damaged, a spokesman said. A woman was injured.

There has been a series of bomb and arson attacks since the arrest of the Kurdish leader. In the most serious incident, 13 people were killed when firebombs were thrown into an Istanbul department store on Saturday.

BBC Ankara Correspondent Chris Morris: The PKK appears to have gone on the offensive
A previously unknown group called "Revenge hawks of Apo" was reported to have claimed responsibility. Apo is Ocalan's nickname.

There have been reports that leftist and Kurdish militants have decided to work together to intensify their violent campaign against the Turkish state.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, has said he believes the attacks are aimed at creating instability and chaos as the country prepares for general elections next month.

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