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Turks Seek Identities of Suspected Suicide Drivers

November 18, 2003|From Times Wire Services

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Investigators scrutinized clues Monday to determine whether Al Qaeda was behind the suicide truck bombings that killed two dozen people Saturday at two synagogues here.

Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said the drivers had not been identified. An unconfirmed TV report said the attackers were two Turks, one with extensive bomb training in Iran.

"We may have an announcement tomorrow," Aksu said when asked about the report by the private Turkish station NTV.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that DNA test results on the remains of the suspected drivers, which could establish identities or at least ethnic backgrounds, were expected today.

With the retrieval of a body Monday in one of the synagogues, the death toll rose to at least 24, including the two suicide drivers, authorities said.

"We are seeing the nature of Al Qaeda.... They just kill. And they're trying to create fear and chaos," President Bush said Monday in Washington. "They'll kill innocent people anywhere, anytime. It's just the way they are. They have no regard for human life."

A surveillance camera on one of the synagogues taped one of the attackers driving an Isuzu pickup packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives. Aksu said the image was badly blurred.

The timing of the twin attacks, two minutes apart, and the large amount of explosives used have led authorities to suspect an international hand in at least their planning.

Turkish news reports said police have been questioning the owners of the trucks used in the bombings. The reports said police also were questioning a Turk believed to be the brother of one of the suspected drivers.

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