updated 7/2/2004 1:17:30 PM ET 2004-07-02T17:17:30

A car bomb exploded near a governor’s convoy Friday in eastern Turkey, killing three people and injuring 24 others, the governor said.

Officials suspect Kurdish rebels were behind the attack in the city of Van, said National Police spokesman Ramazan Er. The rebels announced last month that they were ending a unilateral truce.

However, Kurdish rebels, who go by the name of KONGRA-GEL, denied responsibility in the attack, Turkish media reported.

Gov. Hikmet Tan was not injured in the blast, but his car was heavily damaged.

“It seems that my car was the target. Right now, I’m in good shape,” Tan told private NTV television. Tan originally put the death toll at five but later lowered it to three dead. Five children were among the injured.

Tan said all three people who died were bystanders, and one person was detained.

Officials said the blast appeared to have been caused by a remote-controlled bomb placed in a car.

Police found another bomb in the area and defused it, Er said.

“Turkey will never tolerate terrorism,” Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said before leaving for Lebanon. “Turkey, with its own strength, will always fight terrorism.”

Kurdish rebels fought a 15-year war for autonomy before declaring a cease-fire in 1999.

Some 37,000 people were killed before the rebels suspended hostilities following the capture of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

In a joint statement, former Kurdish lawmakers Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak said they condemned the attack, “no matter who did it.”

Zana and her three colleagues were released from prison after serving 10 years for supporting Kurdish separatism and collaborating with outlawed Kurdish rebels.

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