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Since 1st March, 1999
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Ankara cafe blast

Ankara, May 20 (Reuters): A bomb exploded in a cafe in the Turkish capital, Ankara, today, killing a woman and injuring another person. Police were investigating whether it was a suicide attack, authorities said.

“One person was killed after a bomb exploded,” Ankara state prosecutor Ahmet Mutlu said after visiting the scene. Asked if police suspected it was a suicide attack, he said: “It is being investigated.” The blast, which happened after 0600 GMT, rocked the three-storey cafe frequented by students in the city’s main commercial district, Kizilay. Twisted metal, glass and wood were scattered on a walkway next to a busy street. Witnesses said a young woman was seen entering a toilet where the blast is believed to have occurred.

Only a few customers were in the cafe at the time of the blast, they said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Police officials in Ankara said authorities were investigating if the blast was a suicide attack, but had not ruled out the bomb being accidentally detonated.

Police cordoned off the area surrounding the cafe while bomb squad units sifted through rubble on the cafe's third storey, part of a larger building.

Witnesses saw police retrieving body parts. Medical investigators identified the victim as a woman, aged between 30 and 35 years old, state news agency Anatolian said.

”I heard a loud explosion at about 9 a.m. and came rushing over. I saw body parts including a hand on the ground,” a local shopkeeper said.

Cafe owner Sadullah Kayalar told reporters he had received no warning ahead of the attack. “We didn't receive any threats. We weren't expecting anything like this,” he said.

Several militant groups, including leftists and Kurdish rebels, have in recent years carried out attacks on civilian targets in Turkey, a popular tourist destination.

A small bomb exploded outside the British consulate general in Istanbul in early April, which police suspected was a protest against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Separately, a far-left group called the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front claimed responsibility for a string of small blasts at a McDonald's restaurant and a state hotel in April to protest against the Iraq war.

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