Cablegate: Bombing Update

Published: Fri 21 Nov 2003 02:11 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1.(SBU) Summary: The toll from yesterday's attacks in
Istanbul now stands at 27 dead and 450 wounded. Among the
dead are British Consul General Roger Short and 12 other
Consulate employees (two British, ten Turkish). As in the
November 15 blasts, most victims were Turks passing by the
vicinity of the attacks. They included noted actor Kerem
Yilmazer. To date, we have no reports of American
casualties. The official Turkish investigation is at an
early stage, while a large Scotland Yard contingent arrived
in the city late last night. Consul General joined those
meeting British Foreign Minister Jack Straw at Istanbul
airport on the evening of November 20, and reiterated USG
readiness to provide whatever assistance we can to our
British colleagues. UK officials have accepted the offer of
the former U.S. Consulate in Beyoglu as a base of operations
for the Scotland Yard investigation, and Turkish officials
have moved to close the streets around the location. End
2. (SBU) Updated casualty figures indicate that 27 people
died in the two November 20 bombings: 17 at the British
Consulate and 10 at the headquarters of HSBC. The vehicle
targeting the Consulate succeeded in crashing through the
compound's gates, and exploded inside the compound directly
next to the buildings along the compound wall that housed
temporary offices for the CG, Public Affairs, and Security
officials. The structures were obliterated in the blast; the
bodies of Consul General Roger Short and his secretary, Lisa
Hallworth, were recovered hours later after tons of debris
were removed. The fact that the vehicle penetrated the
perimeter seems to account for the fact that while many
injuries occurred among those passing by on the street and in
the shops and offices surrounding the Consulate, there were
relatively few fatalities.
3. (U) In Levent, at the site of the first bombing, reports
indicate that 10 people lost their lives. Most were
passers-by on the street, including noted actor Kerem
Yilmazer, who was apparently driving by the building at the
time of the explosion. The front of the HSBC building was
sheered off by the blast and lower floors were largely
gutted, but to date only two fatalities have been reported
among those inside the building.
4. (SBU) We are working closely with our British colleagues
to provide assistance, particularly on the security,
administrative, and consular fronts. The Consul General
joined the group greeting Foreign Secretary Straw at Istanbul
airport and reiterated Ambassador Edelman's earlier offer to
help in whatever way we can. GSO worked through the night of
November 20-21 to ready the former American Consulate
building for immediate occupancy, and British officials
indicate that they will use it as their command post for the
Scotland Yard team that will conduct its own investigation of
the bombing. Turkish officials have already taken steps to
seal off the streets surrounding the property.
5. (SBU) Meanwhile, life in Istanbul has resumed some of its
normal rhythm, albeit with an underlying sense of shock and
horror. Even more than last weekend's attacks, yesterday's
explosions, which occurred on a busy thoroughfare in the
upscale Levent business district and on a crowded corner in
the heart of the shopping and cultural hub of Beyoglu,
brought home to the entire city its vulnerability. Strangers
and neighbors alike have taken the time to express their
condolences not just to British expatriates, but others as
well, expressing the wish "Gecmis olsun"-- may it pass.
Prime Minister Erdogan encapsulated the feelings of most with
his comment yesterday that "those who bloodied this holy day
and massacred innocent people will account for it in both
worlds. They will be damned until eternity."
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