İZMİR - TDN with wire dispatches
Eleven policemen and soldiers and seven civilians were injured in a powerful car bomb blast yesterday in the western city of İzmir, officials and media reports said.
A car parked on the side of a road exploded at around 7:45 a.m. just as two minibuses, one carrying soldiers and the other transporting policemen, were approaching.
"The explosion occurred in a vacant car left at the blast scene. We believe the blast was the result of plastic explosives set off by remote control," İzmir Governor Cahit Kıraç was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying.
He said the blast had injured eight policemen and three soldiers, including a colonel.
One of the policemen was reported to be in critical condition.
The windows of nearby buildings and cars were shattered in the blast, which locals described as very powerful. Doğan reported that the car used in the attack was stolen from Istanbul last year and that the license plates were fake. Security cameras from nearby stores showed the car being parked at around midnight.
Television footage showed dark smoke coming from a burning piece of wreckage in the middle of the road in front of a police minibus, as police cordoned off the area and warned civilians to stay away.
İzmir, one of Turkey's main ports on the Aegean coast, has a sizeable population of Kurdish immigrants and was targeted in the past by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, fighting for self rule in the country's southeast.
In October, two bombs exploded several hours apart in a shopping area in İzmir, killing one and injuring seven others. Police said at the time that they suspected the attack to be the work of the PKK.
The PKK routinely targets security forces and the media recently reported that the group was planning bomb attacks in retaliation for Turkish air strikes on their hideouts in neighboring northern Iraq.
Islamist and far-left radicals have also carried out bomb attacks in Turkey in the past.
Thursday's explosion comes two days after a suspected suicide bomber pursued by police detonated a car in the southern city of Mersin, killing himself and wounding 12 officers.
Police have yet to make a statement on who was behind the attack.