Bomb Blasts across Turkey Days before NATO Summit

ISTANBUL (Reuters)–A bomb blast has ripped through a city bus–killing four people in Istanbul–days before US President George W. Bush arrives in the country for a NATO summit–Turkish television says.

It was the second bomb blast to rock a Turkish city on Thursday. The bus was passing in front of a hospital in a residential district of Istanbul–the country’s largest city–when the blast occurred–CNN Turk said. Ambulances rushed to the scene. Seven people were hurt.

Witness Mehmet Tatli told Reuters that he helped carry bodies of the dead and injured after the explosion and saw four bodies in total.

Earlier on Thursday a small parcel bomb exploded outside the Hilton Hotel in the Turkish capital of Ankara–where Bush is due to stay on Saturday night before attending the summit in Istanbul. That blast wounded three people.

The Turkish government–which hosts the NATO summit in Istanbul on June 28-29–earlier moved to reassure the public on security arrangemen’s.

"Turkey is a sufficiently strong and secure country. Such incidents happen everywhere–in London–in Paris–everywhere," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters–adding that the Bush visit would go ahead as scheduled.

Analysts said the blast renewed global security concerns–which since the September 11–2001 attacks on the United States have tended to damage the dollar.

Bush is due to spend Saturday night at the Hilton in the southern part of Ankara where many embassies are located–before talks on Sunday with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

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