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The Mideast

Bombing near Turkey's ruling party headquarters injures 10

Turkey explosion

March 1, 2012: Forensic police cover a damaged police vehicle after a bomb went off near the country's ruling party offices in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul.AP

A remote-controlled bomb mounted on a motorbike exploded in Turkey's largest city on Thursday, injuring 10 people and wrecking a police bus and nearby vehicles, authorities said.

The blast injured at least five policemen and damaged the bus and two other vehicles. It took place in an area close to the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, where one policeman was killed in a bomb attack last year.

Gov. Huseyin Avni Mutlu said the bomb was made of plastic explosives and mounted on a motorbike.

"It appears that it (the bomb) went off as a police vehicle with 21 officers inside passed by," said Capkin.

The bus came to a halt some 50 meters away, said an eyewitness. Forensic teams quickly covered it in blue nylon sheets as experts searched the cordoned-off area for fragments of the bomb.

There was no claim of responsibility. Kurdish rebels as well as leftist and radical Islamic militants are active in Istanbul.

NTV television, without citing sources, said the bomb was similar to another device that went off on a bicycle near a bus stop last year that wounded eight people, including a police officer. The government at the time said the attack resembled a Kurdish rebel operation.

In 2007, bombs mounted on bicycles went off in the mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in the southeast, and the western coastal city of Izmir. Authorities blamed Kurdish rebels for those attacks, which killed one person and wounded about 20.

Thursday's blast occurred amid escalating calls by Turkish Kurds for autonomy and other rights as well threats from the Kurdish rebel group that Turkey faces more violence if it does not halt its military drive against the autonomy-seeking rebels.

The guerrillas took up arms in 1984, and tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict. Much of the violence centers on the predominantly Kurdish southeast of the country, with rebels resupplying and sheltering in bases across the border in northern Iraq.