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Deadly explosions rock Istanbul for second time in five days

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From the Wolf Blitzer Reports staff in Washington:

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From the Wolf Blitzer Reports staff in Washington:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Bloodied faces, body-parts and chaos comprised the grim, yet familiar scene in Istanbul on Thursday.

Within a few minutes and a few miles, Turkey absorbed the worst terrorist bombings in its history. The targets however, were British.

During the late morning in Istanbul at least one massive explosion occurred at the London-based HSBC Bank. The facade of one tall building in the complex was sheared off, nearby buildings were damaged, bodies and dazed victims were scattered through the surrounding area and carcasses of burned-out vehicles littered the streets.

The British consulate was hit next. An official says the compound was "as secure as possible." But the blast was colossal.

One witness described the scene saying, "I was in front of the bar and suddenly we heard a huge explosion, we didn't understand what was going on. All we could see was blood, glass and wreckage. The bodies were just lying on the street. It's a horrible situation."

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"The bomb was so colossal that it demolished the two main buildings at the entrance to the consulate general compound. And it has blown out windows in almost every part of the consulate," said Father Ian Sherwood, the British Consulate Chaplain.

Among the dozens killed at both sites was British Consul General Roger Short. Several hundred were wounded.

There seems no doubt among intelligence experts: This is not the work of amateurs.

Says Sajjan Gohel, director of International Security at the Asia-Pacific Foundation, "If we look at the sophistication, the coordination, the aim of creating mass casualty attacks, yes this does have a hallmarks of a trans-national terrorist group."

These tactics are all too familiar and fresh, among the shell-shocked residents of Istanbul. As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pointed out, "This incident is similar to the incident that occurred five days ago."

On Saturday, explosions at two synagogues in Istanbul killed 23 people and two suicide bombers. As in those attacks, officials believe vehicles were used in Thursday's bombings.

The Turkish government has received a joint claim of responsibility from al Qaeda and a Turkish Islamic militant group that also said it carried out Saturday's attacks.


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