Kurds blamed for wave of bombings: PKK separatists suspected of mounting firebomb attacks throughout Europe in protest at Turkish 'genocide'

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The Independent Online
ONE PERSON was killed and several injured yesterday after suspected Kurdish separatists launched a wave of attacks against Turkish consulates, properties and businesses across Europe.

The attacks, with petrol bombs, sledge-hammers and baseball bats, bore a striking resemblance to a similar concerted action in June. As then, they were precisely co-ordinated and focused primarily on cities in Germany, home to nearly 2 million Turks. Targets in Britain, Austria, France, Denmark and Switzerland were also hit.

Kurdish firebombers managed to penetrate the ring of steel erected as a security cordon round the City of London to prevent IRA car bombs. Five British Telecom employees were taken to hospital, one with serious burns, after one of five firebomb attacks on Turkish buildings in the capital hit the wrong target. The building is in Gresham Street, in the heart of the City.

Nearly 1,000 people were evacuated after a bomb which exploded in a ground-floor office hit a female building inspector. Three suspects had been detained and were being questioned about the incident, a City police spokesman said.

Another firebomb went off at the Turkish Sabanci bank in Finsbury Square, again in London's financial district. The attacks raise questions about how effective is the security of the City of London, and how much longer Western governments can allow the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to operate in Europe.

Other London firebomb attacks were at the Turkish embassy in Belgrave Square, Turkish Airlines offices in Hanover Street near Oxford Circus and a Turkish working men's club in Stoke Newington. They all went off around 10.30am.

Criminal investigators in the German Land (regional state) of Hessen said four people were arrested after a Turkish restaurant in Wiesbaden was set ablaze, killing one person and injuring eight. A spokesman for the investigators said the attacks bore the hallmark of the PKK, which has been fighting for a separate Kurdish state since 1984.

In Bonn, police found a leaflet protesting about 'Turkish genocide' against Kurds close to the scene of another firebombing, while in Stuttgart two Turks and one policeman were injured after a gang of masked men who had run through the city's pedestrianised zone hurled petrol bombs into the Turkish consulate and the office of Turkish Airlines.

In Frankfurt, two banks, one airline office and a travel agency were firebombed and attacked with sledge-hammers. No one was injured. Protesters forced their way at gunpoint into the European headquarters and printing plant of Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper and vandalised it before fleeing. One guard was hit by a sledge-hammer.

In Mainz, police arrested 10 youths after they broke into a cultural centre and ransacked it. In Bremen, two travel agencies and one shop were damaged in petrol bomb attacks.

In the French city of Strasbourg, two Turkish travel agencies and a bank were attacked with firebombs. No one was hurt. A petrol bomb was thrown into the local branch of the Bosphore bank at about 11.35am. There were similar attacks minutes later against the Marmara and Mondial Tourism travel agencies in the city centre.

The attacks were all highly coordinated. If the PKK is found to have been behind them, Bonn more than other government will come under renewed pressure from Ankara to ban the party, which is believed to have close to 4,000 members in Germany.

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