Reporting from Berlin —
A bomb targeting a bus loaded with military personnel killed at least five people and injured 11 in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday, the latest attack on security forces that have been battling Kurdish separatists in the south.
Turkish newspapers and analysts accused the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, of launching the attack and a spate of others. The group fought a bloody years-long war against the government that didn't subside until the 1999 capture of its leader.
A group called the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons claimed responsibility for Tuesday's bombing in a statement on its website, Agence France-Presse reported. Many Turkish officials and analysts suspect that the group is a front for the PKK.
The rare bombing in Turkey's largest and most important city, coming amid increased violence allegedly connected to the nation's restive ethnic Kurdish minority, sent shock waves across the country.
After a weekend attack on Turkish troops in the southeast that killed 11 soldiers, the leader of the secular opposition National Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli, urged the government to declare a state of emergency in the mostly Kurdish region, a call Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed Tuesday.
"Calling for a state of emergency is tantamount to bowing down to the language of terrorism," Erdogan told lawmakers, the Anatolia news agency reported. "We will not give any concessions on democracy; otherwise, terror will prevail."
Turkey's energy minister said efforts would be stepped up to protect oil pipelines that run from the Caspian Sea through the country to its seaports.
According to officials and witnesses cited by Turkish newspapers and news agencies, the bus was carrying 30 to 35 military personnel near a military barracks in Istanbul's Halkali district when a remote-controlled fragmentation bomb exploded.
"As we were cruising at around 7:10 a.m., an explosion rocked the bus," Nesat Yeni, the driver, told Anatolia. "I helped with the wounded. I recall carrying 10 wounded out of the bus."
Turkish security officials said the attack was similar to a June 8 bombing in another district of the city that injured 15 police officers, according to newspaper accounts.