Bomb Explodes in Turkey Tea Garden; 2 Dead, 7 Injured

A remote-controlled bomb exploded in a tea garden in southeastern Turkey Sunday, killing two people and injuring seven others, a local government official said.

The bomb was left at a tea garden in the town of Catak, in Van province which borders Iran, a police official said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists.

It exploded as police arrived at the scene to investigate a suspicious package at the open-air cafe, where people gather to drink tea, eat snacks and play backgammon.

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Two people, including a police officer, died of injuries in hospital, the government official said.

Police suspect autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels were behind the bombing, the police official said.

Television footage showed medics carrying the injured — in bloodied clothes — from ambulances onto stretchers and into the emergency service of a heavily guarded hospital. One relative could be seen arguing with police as she tried to go in and then fainting.

Earlier this week, a Kurdish militant group believed to be linked to the PKK claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings in tourist resorts and in Istanbul that left three people dead and dozens injured, including 10 Britons and several other tourists.

More than 37,000 people have died since the guerrillas took up arms for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast in 1984.

Turkey has been pressuring the United States and Iraq to wipe out rebel hideouts in neighboring Iraq. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Washington and the European Union.