Police search for two suspected bombers of Turkish resort

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Police in Turkey detained a suspected Kurdish rebel believed to be plotting a new bomb attack as security forces in one of the country's most popular tourist resorts searched on Tuesday for two people suspected of planting a bomb that killed three people and injured at least 20.

Attacks against the critical tourism industry are very sensitive in Turkey and authorities would not immediately confirm that the attack in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya was the result of a bomb attack. But the Milliyet newspaper and other reports said police had drawn up sketches of two suspects from descriptions of men seen fleeing the scene, suggesting that the explosion was the result of a bomb.

Monday's attack in Antalya came a day after bomb attacks struck another tourist center, Marmaris, and an Istanbul neighborhood. A militant Kurdish group claimed responsibility for those attacks and warned tourists not to come to Turkey.

Last year Turkey hosted 21 million tourists, which brought in some US$18 billion (¤15 billion) of revenue.

In the Aegean port city of Izmir, police on Monday detained a suspected Kurdish rebel they claimed had infiltrated into Turkey from northern Iraq in order to carry out bombings, the state-owned Anatolia news agency reported. Police searching his home found 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) of plastic explosives, the report said.

The European Union on Tuesday condemned the bombings.

"I strongly condemn the bomb attacks committed on Sunday and Monday in Turkey," said EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana. "I wish to extend my condolences to the Turkish government and my heartfelt sympathy to the families of the victims. My thoughts are also with all those who were injured in those senseless acts of violence."

In Europe, tour operators have said that so far, there have been few cancellations of trips to Turkey.

"Of course, this has only happened in the last 48 hours, but experience has taught us that very few people cancel on the basis of these kind of cases," said Mirjam Dresme of the Dutch industry association of tour operators, ANVR.

She said that people who book to Turkey know already that a bomb attack is a possibility.

"The average Dutch person thinks 'I've already booked, and I'm just going to go,"' she said.

Monday's afternoon blast ripped the facade off at least one multistory building and several shops in the center of Antalya, not far from the beach, and triggered a huge fire that incinerated the bodies of two people who were apparently killed in the explosion. A third person died in a hospital.

The injured included four Israeli, three German and one Russian tourists.

Antalya is a popular tourist resort with Russians, Germans and Israelis.

In one of Sunday's attacks, a bomb placed on a minibus exploded in another Mediterranean resort town, Marmaris, injuring 10 British tourists and 11 Turks.

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, a small militant group believed to be an offshoot of the much larger Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for that blast and an earlier attack on Sunday in Istanbul that injured six people.

"We had warned before, Turkey is not a safe country, tourists should not come to Turkey," the group said in a statement on its web site.

Kurdish militants have been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984 and most PKK attacks have been limited to the largely Kurdish southeast. The Falcons, however, have concentrated attacks on Turkey's western cities and tourism centers.