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Turkish Masonic Lodge Attacked

2 suicide attackers storm Masonic lodge in Turkey, killing 1, wounding 5

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) _ Two suicide attackers stormed a Masonic lodge Tuesday, opening fire with automatic weapons and setting off explosions that killed one person and wounded five, officials said.

One of the attackers died and one was injured in the assault, which comes months after four suicide bombings blamed on al-Qaida killed dozens of people in Istanbul.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, said Gov. Muammer Guler.

CNN-Turk television said a man chanted "Allah, Allah" before setting off one of the explosions.

Police identified one of the injured, Abdullah Islam, as an attacker, CNN-Turk reported, adding that he was being treated for wounds caused by explosives strapped to his body.

"Two assailants shot the guard in his feet and raked the restaurant of the lodge with gunfire, then detonated bombs," Guler told reporters. "One terrorist and one waiter was killed. The second terrorist is injured with his arm ripped off and his guts spilled out." About 40 people were eating in the restaurant at the time of the attack, Guler said.

Police cordoned off the area as ambulances and firefighters rushed to the scene in the residential Kartal district. One of the wounded was reported to be in critical condition, doctors said.

The Masons, a secretive society that traces its roots to medieval craft associations, are active in this predominantly Muslim but strictly secular country.

Four suicide attacks against two synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank killed 62 people in Istanbul last year. Prosecutors have indicted 69 people suspected of belonging to a local al-Qaida cell in the case. Underground leftist and Kurdish groups also are active in Istanbul.

There are an estimated five million to six million Masons worldwide, pledged to the principles of brotherliness, charity and mutual aid.

Masonic practices include oath-swearing, rituals and pledges of secrecy, conducted in Masonic temples by officials wearing regalia. Membership is by invitation, usually limited to professional men and women.

[Web-master's note:The Associated Press is incorrect: membership is not by invitation, but by the request of the would-be member.]


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