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Tributes for Turkish blast victims

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KUSADASI, Turkey -- Tributes were laid on Monday at the site where a tourist minibus was bombed over the weekend at a Turkish beach resort.

Five people were killed in the attack, including 23-year-old Briton Helen Bennett and Irish 17-year-old Tara Whelan.

Three Turks -- two women and a man -- were also killed in the explosion, which tore the roof off the minibus as it was on its way to a beach on Saturday morning.

Thirteen people were injured in the attack.

On Sunday the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said a Kurdish militant group calling itself the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK) had claimed responsibility for the attack in the Aegean town of Kusadasi.

The same group said it carried out a bombing in the same region six days earlier, injuring 20 people.

Flowers, flags and banners were laid around a cordoned-off area around where Saturday's attack took place, the UK's Press Association reported.

A wreath written in Turkish bore the message, "Curse the Heart of Terrorism," while a note attached to flowers read: "London and Kusadasi united -- we will not let terrorism defeat us. Rest In Peace."

In an interview with Hurriyet on Monday, the driver of the bus said a man aged 25 to 35 had boarded it three times on Saturday morning and had been fiddling with his mobile phone on each occasion.

The man had been carrying a rucksack the final time he boarded, Cemal Ucar said.

Ucar lost an eye in the attack while his son was also severely injured, the paper said.

Turkish police initially suspected a female suicide bomber had triggered the blast, but now believe explosives were planted on the vehicle.

In a statement released through the UK Foreign Office on Sunday, the family of the British victim said they were "truly saddened" by the tragedy.

"We are grateful for the excellent work and support of the staff at the Ege and Kent (near Izmir) hospitals," said Helen Bennett's family.

Bennett's fiance, Stephen Stables, 23, and her brother, Adam Megoran, 16, were seriously injured in the attack.

British tourists Geoff Newman, 37, and his partner, Lisa Bosworth, 35, told PA they were sitting in a cafe 100 meters away when the attack took place.

"We thought it was a bomb straight away. We saw the bus and it was a mess. I don't know how anybody got out," said Newman.

"It was like a can opener had been taken to it. The seats had been blown over and there was clothing on the sides. People were running round with blood all over them."

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