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Turks seek clues in attack on synagogue. Libyan, Iranian, Syrian missions under scrutiny

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Despite intensive investigations, Turkish police have been unable to unearth clues about the identity, motives, or connections of the two gunmen who attacked an Istanbul synagogue Saturday. However, there is no dearth of speculation among officials and observers.

``We are carefully studying and considering all possibilities and all kind of names,'' a senior official says. ``But it's too early to say.''

According to reliable sources, the police are keeping a close eye on three diplomatic missions -- those of Libya, Syria, and Iran. Security experts seem convinced that the gunmen must have had direct or indirect connections with at least one of the missions.

The explosives used in the attack, in which 21 Jewish worshippers and the two attackers died, were reportedly of the same type that two Libyans tried to use against a United States officers' club in Ankara last April. Evidence about that attempt points to contacts between the two men and the Libyan Embassy.

``It would not be surprising for the Libyans who failed then to have tried again this time by choosing a synagogue as an easier target,'' one official surmises.

Another possibility police are reportedly investigating is a Turkish connection. After Turkey's 1980 military coup, authorities cracked down on extremist and terrorist groups at home. But there are recent signs that some members released from jail have started reorganizing. Moreover, there has been a growing Islamic fundamentalist trend in Turkey, possibly drawing inspiration from Iran and Libya. Both governments have recently criticized Turkey's foreign policy.

Police are also trying to verify reports that the two terrorists were not operating alone. Turkish authorities say there were two gunmen and that both are dead. But security experts and analysts say privately that there must have been backup people. These experts do not discount the testimony of shopkeepers near the Neve Shalom synagogue who say they saw two young people running away after the explosion.

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