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Turkey12 May 2006

Interior minister urged to hunt bombers of daily Cumhuriyet

Reporters Without Borders called on the interior ministry to find those responsible for terror attacks against the extreme-left opposition daily Cumhuriyet which has suffered three grenade attacks in less than one week.

(JPEG) Three men, one carrying a gun, lobbed a grenade at the paper’s offices in Istanbul from behind a security barrier put in place in front of the building, on 11 May 2006. Guards opened fire on the attackers. No-one was hurt in the explosion but it caused major damage. Windows were blown out on the first two floors and three cars were damaged.

“We are particularly worried by this wave of violence against an opposition daily,” the press freedom organisation said. The left wing and extreme-left media are being made to suffer for their outspokenness and their secular opinions.

Two journalists on Cumhuriyet were killed in bomb attacks in 1993 and 1999. "We urge the interior minister Abdulkadir Aksu, to do everything possible to find whoever is behind these latest acts of terror", said Reporters Without Borders.

Two failed bombings were launched against the daily’s offices just a few days before. A grenade was thrown into the newspaper office’s garden on 10 May but it failed to explode because of a faulty detonator. A similar grenade attack was made on 5 May but it did not go off because its pin was not fully removed.

Istanbul’s chief of police, Celalettin Cerrah, went to the newspaper’s premises to examine the damage and a special unit of the anti-terror section has been set up to investigate the case. Footage taken by a security camera at the paper is in the process of being analysed. The interior minister said that he would closely follow the progress of the investigation.

Journalists on Cumhuriyet resumed work the day after the explosion and security was stepped up around the building. Editor, Mehmet Sucu, told Reporters Without Borders that the newspaper would not halt its work. “They wanted to intimidate us, but instead they have made us stronger”, he said.

Ahmet Taner Kislali, a university professor and an editorialist on Cumhuriyet, was killed in a bomb attack on his home in Ankara on 21 October 1999. One of his colleagues, Ugur Mumcu, was killed in the same way in 1993.

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