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Istanbul 'suicide' attack foiled

Turkish authorities claimed to have foiled a probable suicide attack by a suspected Kurdish militant in Istanbul as the military stepped up bombing raids on rebel hideouts in northern Iraq.

world Updated: Oct 12, 2008 01:26 IST

Turkish authorities claimed to have foiled a probable suicide attack by a suspected Kurdish militant in Istanbul on Saturday as the military stepped up bombing raids on rebel hideouts in northern Iraq.

Police arrested a woman in her 30s in the heart of Turkey's largest city who they said had been faking pregnancy and was carrying 8.8 kilogrammes of explosives, 15 detonators and a manual button in her bag.

The amount of material the suspect was carrying suggested she was preparing an attack on a scale as "murderous" as the twin bombings in Istanbul in July that killed 17 people, provincial governor Muammer Guler told reporters.

Police believed the planned attack would have been a suicide bombing "because of the belt she was wearing," Guler said.

The governor said police had established the woman belonged to the "separatist terrorist organisation", a reference to the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which was also blamed for the July attacks.

The arrest of the would-be attacker in Istanbul's Sisli district came after Turkish jets bombed Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq overnight.

The Turkish military said 31 PKK positions in the Harkurk border area had been successfully hit in the bombing raids before they were then targetted with artillery fire.

It was the sixth such air raid since October 3 when PKK rebels attacked a Turkish border post resulting in the deaths of 17 soldiers and at least 23 militants, according to Turkish figures.