Turkey: Suicide Bomber Was PKK Member

ISTANBUL -- Turkey on Tuesday identified the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Istanbul, wounding 32 people, as a member of the country's main autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebel group.

Sunday's attack targeted riot police stationed at Istanbul's busiest square and 15 of the wounded were police officers.

The Istanbul's governor office said the 24-year-old suicide bomber had joined the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in 2004.

The governor's statement did not directly blame the PKK for the attack, but said police were still investigating the bombing and the bomber's contacts.

The PKK on Monday denied any role in the attack and said it was extending a unilateral cease fire, declared in August, until the summer of 2011, in the hope of opening talks with Turkish leaders.

Some rebel cells however, are believed to operate with considerable autonomy from their leadership, which is based in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq, and it was not known if the bomber had acted independently.

The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. It has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.

Turkey has recently taken steps to improve the rights of Kurds, who make up 20 percent of Turkey's population, including allowing Kurdish-language television broadcasts. The government also has increased contacts with the Kurds as part of a campaign to end the conflict, though it maintains an official policy of not talking to the rebel group.

The state-run Anatolia news agency reported meanwhile, that police investigators detained for questioning seven people suspected of being connected to the bomber. It did not cite a source for the information.