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TheWorldTonight: Militants 'responsible for blaze'.

A HARDLINE Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility for a huge blaze at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport last night, a pro-Kurdish news agency reported.

Government officials refused to comment on the claim, which could not be independently verified.

Officials had earlier ruled out sabotage as a cause of the fire. But a police official said an investigation to determine the cause of the fire was still underway, and the state-owned news agency reported that police were looking at security camera video footage to find the cause.

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons Organization, a hardline group linked to the main Kurdish guerrilla group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party said it started the blaze, which destroyed much of the airport cargo terminal.

The huge fire quickly engulfed the cargo section of Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport today, destroying most of the building and forcing about 2,000 workers to flee, authorities said.

Thick, black smoke from the blaze could be seen from six miles away and forced the closure of one of the airport's runways, causing flight delays. Three people suffered smoke inhalation, but no one was killed.

The fire destroyed cargo including textile products and gold shipments, causing millions of euros of damage.

CAPTION(S):

AIRPORT IN FLAMES... A firefighting plane drops a load of water over Ataturk International Aiprort in Istanbul after a huge blaze engulfed the cargo section, causing thousands of people to flee and air traffic to be disrupted.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 25, 2006
Words:237
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