Kurdish separatists claim deadly attack on popular holiday resorts

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The Independent Online

Eight British people remained injured in hospital in the Turkish holiday resort of Marmaris last night, following a wave of bomb attacks on the country's Mediterranean coastline and in Istanbul, which left at least three dead.

The attacks, claimed by a Kurdish separatist group, were aimed at damaging the area's tourist industry.

Foreign Office officials were still urgently attempting to find out if any British people were among those caught up in the latest and most serious blast at Antalya, which occurred yesterday afternoon, only hours after the explosions in Marmaris, further west along the coast. A spokesman said the early indications were that no Britons were involved.

Initial reports said two or three people had died and more than 20 were injured in the Antalya blast, which occurred in front of a café in the town.

Both attacks were claimed by the TAK, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, a splinter group of the Kurdish separatist movement the PKK, which has staged a number of bombings in Turkey over the past few years. In July last year, one British woman died in an explosion on bus in the Aegean resort of Kusadasi. In a statement on its website, the TAK made it clear it was targeting the holiday industry: "Turkey is not a safe country, tourists should not come to Turkey."

In Marmaris, 10 Britons and 11 Turkish people were injured late on Sunday when a bomb blew apart a minibus in the centre of the resort. There were two other explosions at the same time in rubbish bins on the main boulevard in Marmaris, although no one was believed to be injured. Earlier on Sunday, a bomb blast in a deprived area of Istanbul injured six people.

The Foreign Office, which has sent a team to the area, said that two of the 10 injured British people, a man, 38, and a woman, 44, from Coventry, had been treated in hospital and were now returning home. Although some reports said four children, including a boy of seven, had been among the injured, the Foreign Office said it could only confirm three minors and was unable to say whether any were among the three seriously injured.

Six of the injured Britons were taken to Ahu Hetman Hospital in Marmaris, while four others, including a 73-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl, were admitted to the private Caria hospital. The injuries, none of which were said to be life-threatening, included burns and shrapnel wounds to the legs. Four of the Britons underwent surgery. A spokeswoman for the Ahu Hetman Hospital said the Britons admitted ranged in ages from a seven-year-old boy to a 65-year-old woman.

Although none of the names of those injured have been officially released, among them were cousins Alex and Louis Beckford, from Birmingham, and their grandmother, Suzanna Beckford, who had suffered arm injuries. Mrs Beckford told the BBC: "Why have they done this to us? We have done nothing."

A spokesman for The Federation of Tour Operators - whose members had 14,000 customers in the Marmaris area - said: "Members are not reporting customers wishing to return early in any great numbers - just a handful."

Speaking before the Antalya explosion, Keith Betton, of the Association of British Travel Agents, said British tourists would be unlikely to be put off by the explosions. He said: "I do not envisage that people will react negatively to this because, although no one likes this kind of thing, it has gone on fairly regularly."

The Foreign Office does not advise Britons to avoid Turkey, but warns of "a high threat from terrorism".

Bomb attacks in Turkey

By Louise Jack

* 4 AUGUST 2006

Thirteen people injured in two bomb attacks in Adana, southern Turkey.

* 25 JUNE 2006

Four killed and 28 injured in an explosion in a tourist area near Antalya.

* 31 MARCH 2006

A bomb exploded near a bus stop in Istanbul, killing one person and injuring 13.

* 9 FEBRUARY 2006

One person killed and 16 injured in explosion in Bayrampasa, Istanbul.

* 18 NOVEMBER 2005

One killed and 11 injured in Beylikduzu, Istanbul.

* 6 JULY 2005

Five dead and 13 injured in a mini-bus blast in the Aegean resort of Kusadasi.

* 2 JULY 2005

A bomb planted on a train explodes between Elazig and Tatvan, killing six.

* 24 JUNE 2004

Four people killed in an explosion in Istanbul.

* 20 NOVEMBER 2003

Two explosions in Istanbul leave 32 people dead.

* 15 NOVEMBER 2003

Thirty people are killed and 146 wounded when car bombs hit two synagogues in Istanbul.