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Bomb targets police in Istanbul

A bomb has exploded in Turkey's largest city, injuring 10 people and wrecking a police bus and nearby vehicles, authorities said.

The remote-controlled device, mounted on a motorbike, injured at least five policemen and damaged the bus and two other vehicles in Istanbul.

The blast took place in an area close to the office of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, where one policeman was killed in a bomb attack last year.

Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said the bomb was made of plastic explosives and mounted on a motorcycle.

"It appears that it went off as a police vehicle with 21 officers inside passed by," he said.

The bus came to a halt 50 metres away, said an eyewitness. Forensic teams quickly covered it in blue nylon sheets as experts searched the cordoned-off area for fragments of the bomb.

There was no claim of responsibility. Kurdish rebels as well as leftist and radical Islamic militants are active in Istanbul.

NTV television said the bomb was similar to another device that went off on a bicycle near a bus stop last year that wounded eight people, including a police officer. The government at the time said the attack resembled a Kurdish rebel operation.

In 2007, bombs mounted on bicycles went off in the mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, in the south east, and the western coastal city of Izmir. Authorities blamed Kurdish rebels for those attacks, which killed one person and wounded about 20.

The latest blast occurred amid escalating calls by Turkish Kurds for autonomy and other rights as well as threats from the Kurdish rebel group that Turkey faces more violence if it does not halt its military drive against the autonomy-seeking rebels.

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