Turkish Troops Kill 4 Kurdish Rebels

(US news) Turkish troops killed four Kurdish guerrillas in a southeastern province Wednesday, a day after police defused a bomb in the capital that authorities believe may have been planted by separatist rebels.

The clash in the southeastern province of Siirt was the latest bout of fighting between soldiers and rebels who have bases in neighboring Iraq and have been at war with the Turkish state since 1984.

On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, authorities discovered more than 1,320 pounds of explosives packed into a minibus parked near a marketplace in Ankara.

Police were looking for the driver of the minibus, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. A witness said an unidentified man parked the minibus at a parking garage lot near a market around 4 p.m. Monday, saying he was bringing goods to sell, the agency said.

Experts said explosives found in the vehicle, which was stolen from Istanbul last year and yielded no fingerprints, were similar to those seized in the past from Kurdish separatists. Police have said the findings so far suggest Kurdish rebels were behind the foiled attack.

Sniffer dogs led officers to the blue minibus as Turkey, an ally of the United States, had increased security ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Ankara governor's office said police found sacks of bomb-making materials, including chemicals and gas canisters connected to a cell phone - a method often used by Kurdish rebels in roadside bombings against troops in the Kurdish-dominated southeast near the Iraqi border.

Some newspapers said Wednesday the chemicals were ammonium nitrate or cheap fertilizer, a bomb ingredient.

Also on Tuesday, police found explosives and a weapon when they searched a car in the eastern province of Van before President Abdullah Gul's arrival there, according to private Star television. Two people in the car were arrested, Star said.

Suicide bombers linked to al- Qaida hit Istanbul in 2003 with truck bombs containing ammonium nitrate-based bombs, killing 58 people in attacks that targeted two synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank. In February, a court sentenced seven people to life in prison in the bombings.

Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but secular country, is a key NATO ally. It supports U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq through the Incirlik Air Base in the southern part of the country, one of the most important U.S. military bases in the region.

The van's license plate had been stolen from another vehicle, and the owner had tipped off police about the theft, Anatolia said.

In May, a suicide bombing in one of Ankara's busiest markets killed six people and wounded dozens more. That bombing was blamed on the Kurdistan Workers' Party, but the group denied involvement.

Turkey has accused Kurdish rebels of smuggling hundreds of pounds of explosives into the country from Iraq, where the guerrillas have been based for decades. Turkey is pressuring Iraq and the United States to crack down on the group in Iraq, threatening its own measures if others do not.

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