Holy See Condemns Attacks in Istanbul

Al-Qaida Claims Role in Turkey's Worst Bombings

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican condemned the bombing attacks at the British consulate and a London-based bank in Istanbul that left dozens dead and nearly 450 wounded.



"The barbaric logic of terrorism only causes the death of innocent people and destruction," the director of the Vatican press office, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, said when learning of this morning's attacks, the worst in Turkish history.

At least 27 people were killed in the attacks on the consulate and British HSBC Bank in the heart of the Turkish capital, local authorities confirmed. Among those killed was the British consul general, Roger Short.

Terrorism "aggravates the problems that it claims to resolve," Navarro-Valls said in a statement. "The words of the Holy Father come to mind: 'Terrorism is based on contempt for the dignity of man' and, therefore, 'it is a crime against humanity,' especially 'when it becomes a political strategy.'"

A witness told NTV national television that the attack on the bank, in the commercial Levent district of Istanbul, was a car bomb. A man was seen fleeing from the car.

The attack on the British consulate, in the Beyoglu district, was carried out by a suicide bomber who crashed his van into the building, according to witnesses quoted by Anadolu agency.

The attack was claimed by the al-Qaida terrorist network and the Ibda-C (Front of Islamic Combatants of the Great Orient) Turkish fundamentalist group, which also claimed responsibility for last Saturday's attack on two synagogues in Istanbul. Twenty-five people died in that attack.