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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 June, 2004, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
German 'bomb blast' injures many
A passer-by passes nails on the ground near the explosion
Thousands of nails were found littering the scene of the explosion
At least 17 people have been hurt in a suspected bomb blast in a commercial district of the German city of Cologne.

One person was critically injured in the blast, which showered the street with glass and debris.

The explosion occurred outside a three-storey building housing both flats and shops in the district of Muelheim - in an area with a large Turkish population.

"We believe it was a bomb attack," Cologne police spokesman Juergen Goebel told German television.

No clues

The blast hit the building - in a busy shopping street in the mainly Turkish district - at about 1600 local time (1400 GMT).

Several shops and cars in the street were damaged. Thousands of nails were found at the scene.

"Considering the current evidence, it was a nail bomb," Mr Goebel said.

The shops closest to the blast were reportedly a pizzeria and hairdressers' salon.

The wounded are being treated in hospital. They include a critically injured man who was standing in front of the pizzeria at the time of the explosion, AP news agency quoted a fire department spokesman as saying.

Police have sealed off the area around the blast site and are reportedly sweeping the area for suspects.

The motive for the attack is unclear. The street is in a largely Turkish area of Cologne and the talk locally is that it may have been the result of business or gangland rivalries, says the BBC's Ray Furlong in Berlin.

But there is also speculation of political motives, and the police are not ruling anything out for now, our correspondent says.

Cologne, Germany's fourth-largest city, has substantial Turkish and Kurdish communities.

There have been attacks like this in the past in Germany.

Four years ago a shrapnel bomb injured nine people at the railway station in the nearby city of Duesseldorf - the culprit was never tracked down.

However, Germany has not suffered from a major campaign of political violence since the heyday of the Red Army Faction in the 1970s, our correspondent says.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tristana Moore reports from Berlin
"Police say they haven't ruled out terrorist involvement"



SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Germany
23 May 04  |  Country profiles



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