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3 hurt as blasts rock council building in Turkey

A series of explosions at a municipal government building in Istanbul slightly injured three people Thursday, according to an official and Turkish news reports.
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

A series of explosions at a municipal government building in Istanbul slightly injured three people Thursday, according to an official and Turkish news reports.

Three blasts occurred near a municipal building in the Uskudar district on the Asian side of the city, a municipal official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blasts and officials said police were investigating. The building houses the district's Parks Department.

Earlier reports said hand grenades were tossed into the building, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

The three injured were taken to a nearby hospital, private NTV television reported, citing Istanbul police chief Celalettin Cerrah. Hospital officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Heightened tensions
Police were searching for two people who escaped from the scene of the attack by motorcycle, according to local news reports.

The attack comes at a time of heightened tensions in Turkey after a top court fined the ruling AK Party for anti-secular activities, but stopped short of closing it.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan represents in parliament a district on the Asian side of Istanbul and has a house in Uskudar.

Bomb attacks are common in Turkey, often carried out by leftists, Kurdish separatists and Islamic radicals.

On July 25, two bombings killed 17 people and injured more than 150 others at a packed Istanbul square. Turkey's government has blamed the attack on a Kurdish rebel organization, which denied responsibility.