Friday, September 23, 2011

State legislators unharmed in Turkey terrorist attack

Bomb kills 3 in capital city

Express Staff Writer

Two central Idaho lawmakers are safe after a bomb exploded in the capital of Turkey on Tuesday, killing three but leaving visiting Idaho legislators unharmed.

State Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, and Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, were visiting Ankara along with Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, when the Turkish capital was hit by its first deadly bombing in more than four years.

Senate GOP Caucus Chair John McGee, R-Caldwell, and Sen. Joe Stenger, R-Lewiston, made up the remainder of the delegation. Pence's husband, Lew, as well as the spouses of three other legislators were also in the capital at the time.

None of the lawmakers or their spouses was among the 34 reported injured in the attacks.

The Idaho Statesman reported Wednesday that Pence and Stennett were taking part in a trip sponsored by the Pacifica Institute, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting Turkish-American cultural exchange.

In March, the Idaho Legislature passed Senate Resolution 102, which states that the United States and Turkey share "common ideals" such as freedom, and therefore Idaho senators are dedicated to maintaining and developing "long-standing Idaho-Turkey relations."

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the attack took place before noon in the busiest part of Ankara's downtown district. Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said the target was "Turkey as a whole."

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, though Kurdish rebels were blamed for a small bomb attack in the resort town of Kemer that wounded 10 people on Aug. 28.

The Idaho Statesman reported that the trip, which ends Saturday, was not paid for by state funds.

Katherine Wutz:

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