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Turkish terror attack kills nine soldiers; two suspects caught

NINE soldiers were killed in southeast Turkey in the worst attack in months and police detained two suspected suicide bombers in the capital yesterday in an escalation of tensions.

The incidents were blamed on militant groups including the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting with the authorities over rights in southeast Turkey for 25 years.

Police had warned regional police forces across Turkey of possible suicide attacks by groups linked to the PKK.

A woman carrying explosives and pretending to be a student detonated a bomb at Bilkent University in Ankara during a visit by a former justice minister Hikmet Sami Turk, authorities said.

Hours after, a second suspected suicide bomber was detained in the capital, Turkish broadcaster NTV said. No further information was immediately available.

Violence blamed on Kurdish rebels and groups that operate in the predominantly Muslim country have long weighed on its export-driven economy.

The suspected suicide bomber, who had approached former minister Turk, who regularly visits the university, was wounded but nobody else was hurt.

Turk was hated by left-wing groups for his policies when he was in office. He had received death threats.

"A person pretending to be a student girl entered the building. It is obvious that this was a suicide bomber. She was wounded and is in detention now," Ankara Governor Kemal Onal said, adding she had 1 kilogram of explosives on her body.

In a separate attack blamed on PKK rebels, nine soldiers died while on patrol in the restive mainly Kurdish southeast.

Armed Forces commander General Ilker Basbug said a powerful homemade bomb had hit a tank and an armored personnel vehicle in the province of Diyarbakir.

The attacks raised fresh tensions in European Union candidate Turkey, where the economy has been hard hit by the global economic crisis.

Security forces are fighting PKK rebels in a 25-year separatist conflict that has claimed the lives of 40,00 people and hurt stability in the region.

The government has recently launched a crackdown on Kurdish militants suspected of having links with the PKK in raids that threaten to inflame tensions in the southeast.


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