20 November 2004
A Turkish man walks by a memorial at the former local headquarters of HSBC bank in Istanbul Saturday.
ISTANBUL, British diplomats placed a wreath outside the British Consulate and victims laid carnations outside a London-based bank in Istanbul on Saturday to commemorate the first anniversary of two suicide attacks blamed on a Turkish al Qaeda cell.
The November 20, 2003 suicide truck bombings targeting the British consulate and the local headquarters of HSBC bank came just five days after similar attacks on two Istanbul synagogues.
About 60 people, including British Consul-General Roger Short and his assistant, Lisa Hallworth, were killed in the bombings.
Consul-General Barbara Hay placed a card inside a wreath outside the consulate that said "in memory of our friends, colleagues and neighbors who died at the hands of terrorists."
Inside the consulate, diplomats and others held a moment of silence at 11:03 a.m. -- the time of the attack.
"I lived that moment again. My feet are shaking," said local shopkeeper Ilyas Ekmekci.
Outside the HSBC building, Mehmet Sarikaya, who was injured in the bombing, and his wife Zubeyde placed red carnations at a temporary memorial. A banner with photos of those injured in the bombing read:
"it won't ever be forgotten."
Friends and family of Kerem Yilmazer, a popular Turkish stage actor killed in the attacks, also gathered at his grave.
"We lost him very early. This pain will never end," said one of his friends, Goksel Kortay.
A Turkish court is hearing the case of 69 Turks accused of involvement in the attacks. Most are believed to have played minor roles.
Harun Ilhan, a top suspect in the case, recently testified that he and several others carried out the attack for al Qaeda.
Top members of the cell, including alleged ringleader Habib Akdas, are believed to have fled Turkey and joined insurgents in neighboring Iraq. Akdas is believed to have been killed in a recent U.S. airstrike in North of Iraq.
On Monday, Turkish Jews and Muslims cried and recited prayers of mourning as they marked the first anniversary of the synagogue suicide bombings.
El-Kaide is not a powerful organization in Turkey, and the Turkish experts on terrorism consider the November Attacks as the most serious attempt to establish the Turkish branch of El-Kaide.
Compiled from BBC, CNN and news agencies