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Masonic lodge terror attack in turkey { March 10 2004 }

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004, 12:00 A.M. Pacific

Two killed in attack on Istanbul lodge

By Amberin Zaman
Los Angeles Times

ANKARA, Turkey At least two people were killed and six others wounded when two attackers with automatic weapons and explosives raided a Masonic lodge last night in Istanbul, the country's commercial capital.

One of the assailants was among the dead and the other, who had explosives strapped to his torso, was badly wounded. The attack came about three months after four suicide bombings blamed on al-Qaida killed at least 60 people in Istanbul.

Eyewitnesses quoted by the Turkish television news channel, CNN-Turk, said the men chanted Islamic slogans as they entered the building in the Kartal neighborhood on the Asian side of Turkey's largest city. They shot the building's guard in the leg and then sprayed the lodge's canteen with bullets, shattering its window and wounding several diners, said Istanbul governor Muammer Guler.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack in Kartal, a sprawling, lower-middle-class neighborhood largely populated by Kurd migrants from the country's southeastern provinces.

At least two of the pickup trucks used in November bombings of two synagogues, the British consulate and a British-owned bank in Istanbul had been purchased in Kartal, and three of the suicide bombers were identified as ethnic Kurds. Officials said they would investigate whether there was a link between those attacks and yesterday's blasts.

Prosecutors indicted 69 people suspected of belonging to a local al-Qaida cell in the November case. The cell, according to Turkish intelligence sources was masterminded by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a prominent al-Qaida figure whose men helped to train and run a Kurdish Islamic militant group called Ansar al-Islam.

It was not clear why the Free Masons, a secretive society that traces its roots to medieval craft associations, was targeted. Many in this predominantly Muslim country believe the Masons promote Western interests and have ties to Jewish businesses

The attack is certain to raise further questions about the security situation in Istanbul, a tourist destination. The city of 10 million is also set to host a June NATO summit that is to be attended by President Bush, among others.

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Bush wants to save muslims { November 20 2003 }
Istanbul turkey mason attack not alqaeda { March 10 2004 }
Masonic lodge terror attack in turkey { March 10 2004 }
Synagogue bombings tilt turkey toward west
Terrorist attacks in turkey imminent
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Turks blame bombings on us and israel { November 24 2003 }

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