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TERRORIST BOMB BLITZ: SUICIDE BOMB WOMAN KILLS 6; Turkish hols attack injures 14.

Byline: By DEIRDRE O'DONOVAN, AINE BONNER AND MAEVE QUIGLEY

THE heartbroken family of Turkish terrorist attack victim Tara Whelan are preparing to bring her body home today.

And last night there were fears an unidentified victim of the suicide bomb attack which claimed six lives was also an Irish citizen.

Late last night Turkish police officials said the suicide bus bombing HAD claimed the life of another Irish citizen, but the Department of Foreign Affairs had no conformation.

A DFA spokesman said the dead person's nationality had not been established but it was working closely with the Embassy in Turkey to check the identity.

Student Tara, 17, from Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford, was heading off for a last swim in the sea hours before her flight home yesterday.

Tara was enjoying a carefree sun break with five friends in the Turkish resort of Kusadasi - a favourite destination with Irish holidaymakers - when she was blown up by a female suicide bomber.

Her parents Tony and Francis were distraught last night.

The crazed killer boarded the bus which was packed with tourists like tragic Tara on their way to the nearby Kadinlar Denizi beach resort.

Then just minutes into the journey she exploded her bomb killing six people - including a British holidaymaker - and injuring 14.

Last night guests at the three-star Tropicana Garden Hotel where Tara was staying described her as a lovely, friendly girl.

One said: "I met her a few times here in the hotel and she seemed like a lovely girl. She was very friendly and a very happy girl and she was just enjoying her holiday.

"She was having a lot of fun with her friends and enjoying herself, like all the other Irish people who come here.

"She's been here for about two weeks I think, so I saw her a lot. She was such a nice person - we are all shocked."

"We can't believe she was killed, it is just horrific."

Tara and her pals booked their holiday through SunWorld holidays in Ireland.

At this time of year there are more than 5,500 Irish sunseekers in the region.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern offered his sympathy to the family of the dead girl last night.

He said: "I think like all right-thinking people this was a cruel, evil and senseless act."

And Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern condemned the terrorist attack in the strongest terms and plans to visit the bomb site later this week.

He said: "I am deeply shocked by this cruel and senseless act. Four people have lost their lives, including a young Irish woman.

"I offer my deepest sympathies to her family and to the families of the other victims of this tragedy, as well as to those who were injured.

"There can be no justification whatsoever for this atrocity. I call on the Turkish authorities to pursue those responsible with the utmost vigour and to bring them to justice.

"My Department is in contact with the family of the Irish woman and providing all possible consular assistance to them.

"I have instructed our Ambassador in Turkey to request the Turkish authorities to review security arrangements in tourist resorts in Turkey in the wake of this attack to ensure the safety of holidaymakers."

Last night a spokesman for the Irish Tour Operators Federation said they extended their sympathy to her heartbroken family.

He said: "The Irish Tour Operators Federation can confirm one Irish fatality who had travelled with Sunworld Ireland, part of the Thomas Cook UK & Ireland group.

"Our very deepest sympathy is extended to the family.

"Passengers who are due to travel to Turkey this weekend can if they wish cancel their holiday with a full refund and are advised to contact their booking agent to organise same.

"Tour operators will meet early this week to decide on policy for future departures."

The deadly bomb blast, which happened at around 10.30am local time, destroyed the minibus as it headed toward the popular beach in an Aegean Sea resort town.

The blast in Kusadasi, 45 miles southeast of the port city of Izmir, tore off the roof and sides of the bus.

Horrific pictures of the immediate aftermath showed body parts scattered next to the bus.

Others showed a man's charred body hanging over the twisted remains of a seat in the devastated bus, and body parts scattered next to the bus.

An injured woman was lying on the road, just a few yards from the beach.

Locals ran to the bus after the attack and carried the injured away from the burning wreckage.

Nurdogan Kaya, deputy governor of Aydin province, said the dead included at least one Irish tourist and a Turkish citizen.

And he added that two other victims could not be identified yet. The British Foreign Office in London said one British woman also died in the blast, five Britons were seriously injured and one sustained minor injuries in the blast. No details of the dead Britain have been released.

A police official in Kusadasi said preliminary evidence pointed to a female suicide bomber whose body was torn apart in the blast.

But Kaya said the bombing was caused by a package planted on the minibus. Other officials said the bomb could have been placed under the woman's seat.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. Kurdish rebels have recently carried out bombings in Aegean resorts targeting the lucrative tourism industry but a top Kurdish rebel commander, Zubeyir Aydar, condemned the attack in a statement to one news agency.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was taking anti-terror measures, but added: "It is not possible to stop it 100 per cent, no matter how strict security measures you take."

Dublin woman Fiona Johnston, who lives close to where the bomb exploded, said: "There are a lot of Irish tourists here. It's a big resort and it's mainly Irish people who come here.

"I started to get phone calls from 10.30am this morning just to say that a bomb had gone off on a bus down on the marina.

"What we heard was that it was a suicide bomber, a woman, came to the door of the bus, asked the bus driver a question and then let the bomb off."

The Department of Foreign Affairs is reviewing its travel advice for Turkey in the light of this attack.

And the Department has reiterated its advice to all Irish citizens in Turkey or planning to travel there to exercise caution at all times.

The dolman buses are the most popular and cheapest way for tourists to travel from resort to resort in Kusadasi.

Kusadasi is 70 km from International Izmir Adnan Menderes airport, and is Turkey's oldest and most cosmopolitan tourist spot. At night the resort has a bustling and lively atmosphere.

Fine Gael Foreign Affairs spokesman Bernard Allen TD also condemned the terrorist attack.

He said: "It was with deep shock that we learned of yesterday morning's attack which we now know has claimed the life of a young Irish woman.

"We await further news on those injured and killed by this bomb but I urge all Irish people who are visiting Turkey to exercise caution.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young woman and with the other victims of this bombing and their families"

Sunworld's flight to Turkey left Dublin last night as planned.

CAPTION(S):

An injured woman is helped away from the scene of the suicide bus bomb in the Turkish resort town of Kusadasi as locals and tourists rush to help the survivors
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2005
Words:1266
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