updated 9/3/2006 5:15:41 PM ET 2006-09-03T21:15:41

A remote-controlled bomb exploded Sunday in a tea garden in southeastern Turkey, killing two people and wounding seven, a local government official said.

The blast in the town of Catak, near the border with Iran, occurred as police arrived at the scene to investigate a suspicious package at the outdoor cafe, where people drink tea, eat snacks and play backgammon.

Autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels were suspected as being behind the bombing, a police official said.

Two people, including a police officer, died of injuries in hospital, the government official said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists.

Television footage showed medics carrying the injured in bloodied clothes from ambulances onto stretchers and into the emergency service of a heavily guarded hospital. One relative could be seen arguing with police as she tried to go in and then fainting.

Earlier this week, a Kurdish militant group believed to be linked to the main guerrilla group, the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings in tourist resorts and in Istanbul that left three people dead and dozens injured, including 10 Britons and other tourists.

More than 37,000 people have been killed since the guerrillas took up arms for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast in 1984.

Turkey has been pressuring the United States and Iraq to wipe out rebel hide-outs in neighboring Iraq. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Washington and the European Union.

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