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Turkish resort targeted by suicide bomber, official says

By Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert, CNN
updated 2:38 PM EDT, Fri September 30, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Only the apparent suicide bomber dies in the blast, a local official says
  • No one immediately claims responsibility for the explosion
  • Antalya is a resort area on the Mediterranean Sea

Istanbul (CNN) -- An explosion outside a gendarme station rocked Turkey's popular Mediterranean resort region of Antalya Friday afternoon. A local government official told CNN one man who appeared to be a suicide bomber was killed in the blast.

The official from Antalya's Goynuk municipality, where the explosion took place, asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The official said at least one person was slightly injured in the explosion.

Security forces cordoned off the area in the wake of the apparent attack. Turkish television showed images of forensic workers picking through debris against Antalya's stunning backdrop of palm trees and steep mountains.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the explosion. A broad spectrum of ideological groups, including leftists, anarchists, fundamentalist Islamists and ultra-nationalists have carried out acts of political violence in the past in Turkey.

Over the past summer, however, Turkey has seen an increase in deadly attacks carried out by militants from a Kurdish separatist group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Turkey's paramilitary gendarme units are particularly active in anti-terrorism efforts.

Most of the fighting has been centered in southeastern Turkey, where Kurdish rebels have battled Turkish security forces since the 1980s.

But last week, at least three people were killed in an explosion that targeted the heart of Ankara, the Turkish capital. A PKK splinter faction known as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Last month, Turkish warplanes launched a series of cross-border bombing raids against Kurdish rebel camps in the mountains of northern Iraq.

After months of escalating ethnic tension and bloodshed, there is new hope for political dialogue. This week, lawmakers from the main Kurdish nationalist political party in Turkey, the Peace and Democracy Party, announced they would end their boycott of parliament.

After refusing to participate in a swearing in ceremony last June, Kurdish lawmakers are expected to attend a session of parliament on Saturday.

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