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Bombs strike Istanbul neighborhood, killing 15
CORRECTION Turkey Exp Heal
Police forensic experts examine the scene after an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey, late Sunday, July 27, 2008. Two consecutive bomb explosions in an Istanbul suburb on Sunday killed 13 people and injured some 70 others, the city's governor said. Gov. Muammer Guler called the explosions a terror attack. The bombs were placed in trash cans and police were investigating who might be behind the blasts, he said. - photo by Associated Press

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Two bombs exploded minutes apart in a packed Istanbul square Sunday night, killing 15 and injuring more than 150 in what the city governor said was a terror attack.

Many were injured in the second blast after they rushed to the area to help the casualties of the first explosion in the working class Gungoren neighborhood, witnesses said. The blasts were about 10 minutes apart.

"There is no doubt that this is a terror attack," Gov. Muammer Guler told reporters. "The fact that there was a crowd in the area has increased the number of casualties," he added.

The governor's office said 154 people were injured. Of those, 15 were in critical condition, a government official at the scene said. Police were investigating who was behind the blasts.

CNN-Turk television, citing security sources, said police suspect Kurdish rebels may be responsible for the attack. It said intelligence reports had suggested the rebels were planning a bombing campaign in Turkish cities.

However, officials did not accuse any specific group.

"We know it is a terrorist attack, but which organization is responsible — we don't yet have that information," Deputy Prime Minister Hayati Yazici told journalists at the scene of the attacks.

Kurdish, leftist and Islamic militants are active in Istanbul and have carried out past bombings in the city. On July 9, gunmen believed to be inspired by al-Qaida opened fire on police guarding the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, killing three officers. Three attackers also died in a shootout with police.

Both of Sunday's blasts were in a square closed to traffic where people congregate at night.

An Associated Press reporter who arrived to the scene shortly after the explosions saw at least 12 people lying on the ground. Broken glass, clothing, shop mannequins and other debris were strewn on the ground and bomb squads in white overalls were inspecting the scene.

Many of the injured waited for medical treatment, their faces and bodies covered with blood. Several people who appeared seriously wounded were wrapped in blankets and carried to ambulances waiting near the site of the blasts.

The first explosion was in a telephone booth," said Huseyin Senturk, who owns a shoe shop yards away from where the blasts occurred. "The second explosion was some 40 meters (yards) away."

"The first explosion was not very strong," Senturk added. "Several people came to see what was going on. That's when the second explosion occurred and it injured many onlookers."

The second explosion could be heard a mile away.

Guler said the bombs were placed in trash cans.

Kurdish rebels belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, have been fighting for self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984. The violence has killed tens of thousands of people since then.

Turkey has conducted frequent air raids on suspected rebel positions in northern Iraq, including one earlier Sunday. Earlier this year, it launched a weeklong ground offensive against the rebels.

Although most of the fighting in concentrated in rural areas of southeastern Turkey, the rebels occasionally launch bombing campaigns in Turkish cities and tourist resorts.

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