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Turkey and Egypt reeling as twin attacks claim 60 lives

By AP Reporters

Turkey has declared a national day of mourning and Egypt is reeling after bomb blasts left more than 60 people dead in the two countries over the weekend.

The two terrorist attacks are not believed to be linked.

A Turkey-based Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility for explosions in Istanbul, while a blast in Cairo was blamed on Islamic militants.

Yesterday, Turkey began to bury its dead after twin blasts in Istanbul killed 38 people and wounded 155 others near a football stadium.

The twin car-and-suicide bombings on Saturday night near the Besiktas stadium enraged top officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who vowed to hunt down the perpetrators.

In a statement posted on its website, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK, said two of its members had targeted security forces outside the stadium shortly after home team Besiktas beat Bursaspor 2-1 in the Turkish Super League.

Thirty police officers were killed along with seven civilians and an unidentified person, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. He added that 13 people had been arrested in connection with the "terrorist attack".

Mr Erdogan vowed his country would fight "the curse of terrorism till the end" after paying a visit to some of the wounded at Haseki Hospital in Istanbul.

Surrounded by a crowd of people chanting his name and "God is greatest", Mr Erdogan vowed that the perpetrators would not get away and would be forced to "pay an even heavier price".

In Egypt, 25 people were killed and 49 wounded in a bombing at a chapel next to the country's main Coptic Christian cathedral during Sunday mass.

It was the second deadly attack to hit Cairo in two days.

Reports said an assailant lobbed a bomb into a chapel close to the outer wall of St Mark's Cathedral, seat of Egypt's Orthodox Christian church and home to the office of its spiritual leader, Pope Tawadros II, who is currently visiting Greece. Other witnesses believed the blast may have been caused by an explosive device planted inside the chapel.

It happened as mass being held in the chapel was about to end, and coincided with a national holiday in Egypt marking the birth of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Most of the victims are thought to be women and children.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's attack, which bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants fighting the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.

As defence minister, he led the July 2013 ousting of Mohamed Morsi, an elected Islamist president who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.

An angry crowd of several hundred people gathered outside the cathedral, chanting anti-government slogans and calling for the sacking of the interior minister, who is in charge of security.

On Friday, six policemen were killed in Cairo in a bomb attack claimed by a group suspected of having links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Many of Morsi's supporters blamed Christians for supporting his overthrow, and scores of churches and other Christian-owned properties in Egypt were ransacked in 2013.

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