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    Suicide attacks on ex-minister foiled at private university in Turkish capital

    by Mustafa Oguz
    29.04.2009 - 11:20 | Son Güncelleme: 29.04.2009 - 16:09

    ANKARA – A former Turkish justice minister walked away from an attempted suicide attack unharmed when his bodyguards thwarted the bomber at a private university in Ankara, officials said. (UPDATED)

    The suspected attacker, Didem Akman, was injured as a fuse on her body exploded and she was hospitalized, former Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk said at a press conference Wednesday.

     

    Another suspect, Onur Yilmaz, was caught in a bus terminal after security forces spotted him with Akman on security cameras, officials from Bilkent University said in a press conference. TV channels later reported that a third suspect was also being searched.

     

    The assassination attempt on Turk came just he was entering the classroom at Bilkent University where he has given lectures in the law faculty since leaving the government in 2002.

     

    "The girl came to me and said she wants to ask a question,” Turk said. “I refused as the class was about to start. I heard a small explosion just I entered the classroom.”

     

    Turk, 74, served as justice minister between May 1999 and November 2002 in the government of late Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. Before that, he had assumed the positions of defense minister and state minister responsible for human rights.

     

    He said his bodyguards overpowered the attacker after she failed to detonate her explosives and drew a weapon.

     

    The university's faculty building has been evacuated and all of the university’s entrances and exits were closed.

     

    BULGARIA CONNECTION?

    Bilkent officials also said the attacker entered the university using a fake identity card and said she wanted to use the library. The university’s library is open to the public.

     

    "She entered Turkey from Bulgaria. We believe the attack was planned by an organization to protest Operation Return to Life," a security official added.

     

    Turk was Justice Minister when Turkey launched F-type prisons. Far-leftists inmates started hunger strikes to protest isolation in the F-type prisons.

     

    Turkey launched an operation called Return to Life to end the hunger strikes, which left two gendarmes and 12 prisoners dead.

     

    Turk said this was the closest assassination attempt he escaped. The officials did not release information about the amount of explosives that the suspected attacker had, but Turk said that according to the information he had, if the explosives had been detonated, the faculty building might have been destroyed.

     

    He also recalled a similar incident in 2002 when another female suspected militant attempted a suicide attack in Kartal prison while pretending to be a journalist. She also entered Turkey from Bulgaria, he added.

     

    Earlier reports said that Turkey's Security General Directorate warned police departments in major cities against possible suicide attacks that could be launched by three bombers sent by terror organization PKK from the country's Southeast.

     

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