Turkish police raid houses as bomb toll rises

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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Sep 13 (Reuters) Police raided houses today in a major security crackdown in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, after a bomb blast killed 10 people, five of them children.

It was the bloodiest attack in Turkey since suicide bombers killed more than 60 people in Istanbul in November 2003 and the latest in a series of explosions in Turkish cities, including coastal resorts, which have killed at least 15 people.

No one claimed responsibility for the blast late yesterday at a bus stop in the city, in the heart of a region that has witnessed 22 years of conflict between Turkish security forces and rebels fighting for a Kurdish state.

The local governor's office put the death toll at 10, with 15 injured. Police had earlier said the blast killed 11 people.

Among the dead were a mother, her four children and her sister, the state Anatolian news agency reported.

''Our grief is great for the victims of this terror, especially as our children have been the victims,'' Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told a gathering of regional leaders.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer also condemned ''this ugly, inhuman attack''.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group denied claims it was responsible for the bombing, blaming instead shadowy elements within the Turkish state.

''This attack was carried out by some forces in the Turkish special war system in order to sabotage this (peace) process,'' the PKK said in a statement carried by the Firat News Agency. It was referring to efforts to end the conflict in the region.

There was no immediate word from the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK), a group believed linked to the PKK which claimed responsibility for attacks in August. TAK has threatened to turn Turkey into ''hell'' over its policies towards the Kurds.

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