A brutal campaign for self rule

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The Independent Online

A Kurdish separatist splinter group claimed responsibility for four bomb blasts in the Turkish resort town of Marmaris and in Istanbul on Sunday, which injured 27 people including 10 British holidaymakers.

In a statement on their website, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) said: "We warned tourists before ... Turkey is not safe. Tourists should not come to Turkey. We will not be held responsible for the consequences if they do."

Turkish police announced late last night that they had arrested a suspected member of a Kurdish guerrilla group planning a new attack. According to the state news agency Anatolian, police said the suspect was planning an attack on the city of Izmir and that explosives had been seized in the arrest. Other people were detained for helping the suspect who was apparently from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), not the TAK.

The TAK are a splinter group who first emerged last year in a similar attack on an Aegean resort. They are part of the Kurdish Separatist Movement but not officially linked to the PKK, which has waged an armed campaign for Kurdish self-rule in south-east Turkey since 1978. Since the arrest of their leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1999, the PKK said it would like to broker a peace deal with Turkey, but Ankara has said it will not negotiate with terrorists.

The group has come under pressure in recent weeks from Turkey and the US to end its operations in north Iraq. The PKK has demanded full amnesty for their guerrillas, a condition Ankara refuses to accept.

Turkey has also been incensed by the Iraqi government's refusal to tackle those Kurdish guerrillas operating out of the north of the country. During a visit to Turkey last month the Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari avoided making any concrete commitments to taking on Kurdish fighters attacking Turkey out of bases in Iraq.

In 2003, al-Qa'ida-linked members drove an explosive-laden van into the British Consulate in Istanbul, killing 14 people. A second bomb hit the HSBC bank headquarters at about the same time.

In July last year, Helyn Bennett, 21, from County Durham, and Tara Wheelan, 17, from Kilmeaden in the Republic of Ireland, were among five people killed after a bomb tore through a bus in the Aegean resort of Kusadasi. Police blamed the attack on the PKK, but the organisation denied involvement.

After the blasts in Marmaris, police set up sweeping roadblocks throughout the town. So far no one has been apprehended.

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