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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 18:55 GMT
Turkish press aghast at bombings
Turkish press graphic

The bomb attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul have drawn angry condemnation from the Turkish press.

But with motives behind the bombings still uncertain, opinion is split as to who the perpetrators were and what they aimed to achieve.

The synagogue attacks, perpetrated by "bastards", "exploded in our hearts", say headlines in the daily Hurriyet.

The "massacre" came right at the moment when the victims "believed with great conviction they were in the presence of God".

The "bloodbath", says a Tercuman columnist, "violated democracy, freedoms and human rights".

Criticism and suspicions

The writer also criticizes the US, saying that if Washington had co-operated more with the international community in its war against terror, terrorist organizations could have been weakened and isolated.

This attack might have aimed to ensure that Turkey pursues policies that are closer to the US and Israel

It was a "cursed attack", says the daily Cumhuriyet, describing the twin bombings as an assault on "peace and stability".

Other papers suspect that pro-US forces could have been aiming to influence Turkey's wider regional policies.

"This attack might have aimed to once again draw Turkey toward Iraq and to ensure that Turkey pursues policies that are closer to the US and Israel," says a commentary in Istanbul's Milliyet.

Commentators in Cumhuriyet also question whether the attacks intended to undermine Turkey's relations with Israel, or perhaps to spur Ankara on to more extensive involvement in the US war on terror.

One writer suggests that the attacks may have been aimed at "dragging Turkey into the quagmire of terrorism in parallel with the developments in Iraq".

Al-Qaeda to blame?

Despite speculation that the attacks bear the hallmark of al-Qaeda, a number of commentators reject the idea that the network is responsible.

A columnist in the Islamic fundamentalist daily Vakit says al-Qaeda would never stage attacks that promoted US and Israeli interests.

Instead, he suspects that the CIA and the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, were at work.

Milli Gazete also speculates that "evil powers" were at work which may have sought to "vindicate the increasing US occupation campaigns".

Advance warning?

There are questions too over why the attacks had not been prevented, despite advance warnings.

A Sabah commentary says that Mossad had warned police of the possibility of a major attack on Jewish citizens by al-Qaeda.

If this was the case, it says, how did the Neve Shalom synagogue became such an "easy target"?

Zaman columnist Erhan Basyurt also notes that Mossad and Turkish intelligence had "warning of attacks against synagogues".

And he worries that the bombings are a demonstration of the perpetrators' capacity for attacks.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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Country profile: Turkey
14 Oct 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Turkey
16 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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