PKK denies responsibility for Sunday's Istanbul bomb

Mon Nov 1, 2010 4:07pm GMT

By Ece Toksabay and Ayla Jean Yackley

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Monday denied responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in Istanbul that wounded 32 people and said they were extending a cease-fire until Turkey's general elections in 2011.

Some officials had said the PKK, a guerrilla group that has fought a 26-year-long insurgency for autonomy in Turkey's southeast, was emerging as the most likely suspect for the attack on the police in central Taksim Square, a busy transport hub usually packed with foreign tourists and shoppers.

Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and its financial capital, has been targeted in the past by Kurdish separatists, al Qaeda and militants from the far-left.

"There is no way we would be involved in such an attack on a day our organisation was getting ready for a step towards peace and a democratic solution," the PKK said in a statement.

It also said it was extending a month-old cease-fire that expired on Sunday until Turkey's next elections in June 2011.

"Neither us nor any organisation linked to us have carried out or planned such an attack... We have no connection with the attack in any way," the statement said.

Small PKK cells have staged attacks in the past without authorisation from PKK headquarters and splinter groups including former PKK members have carried out bombings also.

Interior Minister Besir Atalay said no one had been detained in connection with the attack. He said the suspects would be disclosed once authorities were sure who was to blame.   Continued...

<p>Riot police stand guard as police forensic officers inspect the scene after an explosion near the police vehicles in central Istanbul October 31, 2010. A suspected suicide bomber injured at least 15 people in the explosion in Istanbul's central Taksim Square on Sunday, Turkish media reported. REUTERS/Murad Sezer</p>
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