ANKARA - TDN with wire dispatches
A suspected suicide bomber pursued by police detonated a car in Mediterranean town of Mersin, killing himself and wounding 12 officers, media and officials said Tuesday.
"We are considering the possibility of a suicide bomber," Mersin provincial governor Hüseyin Aksoy told Anatolia news agency.
Having ignored calls to stop, the driver detonated the device when chasing police opened fire on the outskirts of the Mediterranean city, according to the agency.
Police estimated that the bomb contained about 30 kilogrammes of C-4 plastic explosives, which outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, frequently uses, unnamed officials also told Anatolia. Governor Aksoy said the ID carried by the suspected suicide bomber was fake, adding that their preliminary suspicion fell on the PKK, reported the Doğan news agency.
Security forces began following the car early Tuesday after it left the neighboring province of Adana, where it had arrived from the southeastern city of Diyarbakır. Television footage showed police spraying water on a charred metal wreckage.
Investigators suspect the assailant intended to target the police headquarters in Mersin at a time when dozens would have been leaving the building after work, Anatolia said.
"The police did a very good job and foiled a big bomb attack," Mersin Mayor Macit Özcan said.
Two of the 12 wounded policemen were hospitalized in serious condition as the security forces sought to identify the assailant.
Mersin is one of the main ports on the Mediterranean coast and has a sizeable population of Kurdish immigrants from the southeast, who have staged violent demonstrations in the city in the past.
The media have recently reported that suicide bombers have sneaked into the country from camps in neighboring northern Iraq to carry out attacks in retaliation for an intensified Turkish military crackdown against PKK.
Turkish warplanes have bombed hideouts of the PKK in the mountains of northern Iraq since December.
The authorities blamed the PKK -- listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community -- for two bomb blasts in a crowded street in Istanbul on July 27, which killed 17 people, among them five children, and wounded more than 150.
Suicide drivers detonated four trucks outside two synagogues, the British consulate and the British-based HSBC bank in Istanbul in November 2003, killing about 60 people and causing massive destruction. The attacks were blamed on a Turkish cell of the al-Qaeda network.