Bomb found outside Istanbul shopping centre

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Turkish police on Saturday defused a bomb outside a shopping centre in Istanbul, with the city on a high security alert following a suicide bombing earlier this week.

The homemade device was found in a suspect package in front of a shopping centre in the western suburb of Basaksehir after a passer-by raised the alarm, the official Anatolia news agency reported.

Police defused the device and took it to a laboratory for further investigation, it said. Reports described the device as a fragmentation bomb.

In another security alert Saturday, police detonated in controlled explosion gas cannisters that had been found in a suspicious package in the suburb of Sefakoy, Anatolia said.

The female suicide bomber and a policeman were killed in Tuesday's bombing in the Sultanahmet district, the location of most of the biggest historic tourist attractions in Istanbul.

Am extreme leftist Turkish group initially claimed the attack but then retracted the claim, saying the first statement was an error.

Authorities are now probing if the bomber - said to be a Russian citizen from the Muslim northern Caucasus - had extremist links.

Security has been high in Turkey over the past few months, amid fears of attacks by Kurdish militants and extremists controlling parts of Iraq and Syria up to the Turkish border.

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