- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A car bomb went off near a high school in the Turkish capital on Tuesday, igniting other vehicles and killing three people in a nearby building, authorities said. The blast also wounded 15 people.

The prosecutor’s office said the blast was a terrorist attack.

“The explosion occurred in a place where car and people traffic is intense. It looks like the intension was to inflict as much harm to people as possible,” Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said.

The parked car was purchased a week ago, but it was not yet registered. Police detained a woman at the scene who shouted, “Long live our struggle!” as she was escorted away by police, Dogan news agency video showed.

Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey recently have escalated their attacks on Turkish targets. Islamist and leftist militants also have carried out some bombings in this NATO member and U.S. ally.

Kurdish rebels were blamed for a small bomb attack in the Mediterranean resort town of Kemer that wounded 10 people, including four Swedes, on Aug. 28. Turkish warplanes bombed suspected rebel hideouts in northern Iraq last month in response to the escalation of attacks by the guerrillas.

The bodies of three people were found in a building near the car that exploded in downtown Ankara, Mr. Sahin said. Fifteen people also were wounded, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said police had information that a bomb was planted on the car, although other officials quoted a witness as saying that a burning gas canister had been tossed onto the vehicle.

The explosion sparked a series of blasts in adjacent vehicles.

Reyhan Altintas, a neighborhood administrator, said she rushed outside after hearing a loud blast. It was followed by three other blasts, apparently caused by cars catching fire.

At least five of the wounded were in serious condition, Mr. Sahin said.

“I had never heard anything like it in my life,” witness Adnan Yavuz said of the initial blast. “Then came another explosion and parts of a car dropped from the tree.”

The wounded were initially treated in the schoolyard before medics rushed to the scene and whisked them away to hospitals, NTV television said. Authorities evacuated the school as worried parents rushed to pick up their children.

Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser and Burhan Ozbilici in Ankara contributed to this report.