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Istanbul turkey mason attack not alqaeda { March 10 2004 }

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Istanbul blast believed to be work of locals
By Vincent Boland in Ankara
Published: March 10 2004 7:49 | Last Updated: March 10 2004 11:24

The authorities in Istanbul said they had no evidence that a bomb attack in the city late on Tuesday was connected to a deadly wave of suicide bombings that killed scores of people last November.

Muammer Guler, governor of Istanbul, said on Wednesday that no group had claimed responsibility for the latest attack, on a building housing a Masonic lodge, and that there appeared to be no immediate link to the November attacks.

Two people, a bomber and a waiter at a restaurant in the building, were killed. A second bomber was injured, as were five people in the restaurant. One of these was released from hospital early on Wednesday.

Security officials were quoted in the Turkish press as saying the bombing was more likely to be the work of local terrorists than of al-Qaeda or its affiliates. Newspapers reported that it may be linked with IBDA-C, a small, hardline but relatively unsophisticated Islamist terrorist group that has carried out attacks in Turkey in the past.

The attack sparked fears of a fresh round of indiscriminate violence in Turkey’s largest city, which is home to many ethnic and religious minorities.

The November 2003 bombings, which were linked by Turkish security forces to al-Qaeda, killed some 60 people in four attacks that targeted two synagogues, the British consulate, and the Turkish headquarters of the HSBC banking group.

Tuesday’s attack happened at about 10.30pm local time. Some 40 people were in the restaurant at the time.

Freemasonry was established in Turkey after the second world war and has a small but high-profile following. According to the website of the Philaletes Society, a Masonic research group, Turkey is the only Muslim country with a regular Grand Masonic Lodge.

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