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Last Updated: Monday, 17 November, 2003, 23:39 GMT
Turkey probes synagogue bombing
Flowers and banner reading, Tolerance and Peace, are placed near the bombed Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul
Jews and Muslims held a peace march near one of the synagogues
Investigators in Turkey are carrying out DNA tests on the bodies of two suspects in the suicide attacks on two Istanbul synagogues.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped the tests would be completed on Tuesday.

The body of an elderly woman was found in the wreckage of one of the synagogues on Monday, raising the death toll in Saturday's car bombings to 24.

One of the suspected suicide bombers has been spotted on security cameras.

The footage is not clear but police are trying to identify him, Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu told a Turkish newspaper.

TURKISH JEWISH COMMUNITY
About 20,000 Jews, mainly in Istanbul
Influx after expulsion from Spain in 1492
17 synagogues in Istanbul

Funerals for the six Jewish victims are due to be held on Tuesday. At least seven of the Muslim victims were buried on Monday.

Most of those killed in the attacks were Muslim Turks, who lived, worked or were passing by the synagogues when the explosions occurred.

DNA hopes

About 300 people were wounded in Saturday's blasts, which came within minutes of each other in the districts of Beyoglu and Sisli.

More than 40 of the wounded are still in hospital, including nine in intensive care.

Reports in Turkey said the attackers were two Turkish Islamic militants, but the prime minister said the attackers' identities could not yet be determined.

"I believe we will reach a definite result with the DNA tests," Mr Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.

CCTV footage

The interior minister told the Vatan newspaper that the attacks were carried out by two suicide bombers who detonated explosives as they drove past the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues.

Neve Shalom's security cameras caught one of the attackers moments before the blast, Mr Aksu said.

We tell the criminal Bush and his lackeys...that the cars of death will not be limited to Baghdad, Riyadh, Istanbul... and so forth
'Al-Qaeda' statement

"He is in the footage, although it is not clear. We are trying to establish their identities... It is also not clear whether they were Turkish citizens or foreigners."

The Turkish authorities have also said that closed-circuit television at each synagogue filmed the licence plates of both vehicles. Their owners have been traced and are being questioned, although they have denied any involvement in the attacks.

A group calling itself the Abu Hafz al-Masri Brigades has claimed responsibility for the attacks but the claim has so far been impossible to verify.

The group, linked to the al-Qaeda network, has also claimed responsibility for recent suicide bombings in Iraq, including the August attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.

The latest claim was made in an email sent to London-based Arabic newspaper al-Quds.

The statement said the group targeted the synagogues because Israeli agents were working there, al-Quds editor Abdel-Bari Atwan told the BBC.

Turkish officials believe a major foreign organisation was responsible.

"There is no organisation in Turkey that could have carried this out by itself. It's obvious the planning was done with a foreign source," Mr Aksu was quoted as saying.

Police hope if they can identify the suicide bombers they can follow up leads and find out which group was involved.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Richard Galpin
"Much important evidence has been collected from the bomb sites"



SEE ALSO:
Film clue to Turkey Jewish attack
17 Nov 03  |  Middle East
Q&A: Turkey synagogue attacks
17 Nov 03  |  Europe
World leaders denounce bombings
15 Nov 03  |  Europe
Turkish press aghast at bombings
16 Nov 03  |  Europe
Turkey blast wreaks carnage
15 Nov 03  |  Europe
Tense times for Turkey's Jews
15 Nov 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Turkey
12 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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