A Suicide Bomb in Van Kills 2

DIYARBAKIR (Reuters)– A woman’set off a bomb outside an army barracks in eastern Turkey in Thursday killing herself and a passerby in the third suicide attack targeting security forces since mid-November.

Security officials said twenty-two people–including 14 soldiers–were injured in the blast in the town of Van.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility–but one official said he suspected the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was behind the explosion.

Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema has said the rebel chief is most likely to leave the country after the court ruled that he could go free.

A security official said Thursday’s bomb was set off by a woman as she approached a military minibus at around 7:45 a.m.

Van provincial governor Abdulkadir Sari said he rushed to the scene after the blast woke him.

"A big disaster was avoided because the military personnel had not got off the vehicle when the explosion occurred," Anatolian news agency quoted him as saying.

He said none of the injuries was serious. Casualties were being treated in nearby hospitals.

Van police chief Zeki Catalkaya said work was continuing on identifying the type of bomb and the woman–who was blown apart in the blast. He said the outcome of the investigation was expected within several days.

The suicide attack was the third of its kind since Ocalan was detained in Rome. On November 17–a PKK soldier killed herself and wounded six people in a bomb blast outside a police station in the southeastern town of Yuksekova.

Two weeks later–another female blew herself up and injured 14 people in the southeastern town of Lice.

Islamist militants and leftist urban soldiers have also carried out bomb attacks in Turkey in recent years.

Rome’s refusal to extradite the leader prompted a fierce diplomatic row between Rome and Ankara.

Kurdish sources said on Thursday Ocalan did not want to leave Italy despite Italian government pressure for him to go.

Since his arrest in Rome–Ocalan has been calling for an international conference to settle the Kurdish question.

Ankara opposes an international trial–concerned that its policies in fighting the PKK could be called into question.

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