Bomb Explodes Outside El Al Office in Istanbul, Wounding Three Turks

A bomb exploded Monday outside an El Al Israel Airlines office in downtown Istanbul, wounding three men and shattering the windows of nearby buildings.

No individual or organization has taken credit for the incident, which surprised many, as Turkey has been virtually free of terrorist attacks against Jews and Israelis in recent years.

“In Turkey, there has been some Arab terrorist activity, but not against Israelis,” said Ozgen Acar of the Anatolian News Agency’s bureau here. “They have been against other Arabs, Americans and Turks.”

The last major terrorist incident in Turkey against Jews was the shooting at the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul by the Abu Nidal group in September 1986. Twenty-one worshippers were killed in that attack, which occurred during Shabbat morning services.

On Monday, at 2:10 p.m. local time, residents of central Istanbul were jolted by a loud explosion and the sound of shattering glass.

The cause was a noise bomb that detonated just outside the Babel Street El Al office, causing nearby windows to shatter.

Three telephone workers, Ibrahim Tas, Alper Ustun and Fahrettin Aygunoglu, fixing phone lines three yards from the offices, suffered injuries from flying glass. No El Al staff, who are generally local Turks, were injured.

According to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, there is still no knowledge of who planted the bomb, but an investigation is under way.

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