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Last updated: February 20. 2013 4:46AM - 293 Views

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ISTANBUL — A New York City woman who went missing while vacationing alone in Istanbul was found dead on Saturday and police detained 11 people for questioning in connection with her case, Turkey's state-run news agency said.


Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due to board her flight back home. Her disappearance attracted a lot of interest in Turkey, where such incidents involving foreign tourists are rare. Istanbul police had set up a special unit to find her.


The Anadolu Agency said the body of a woman was discovered Saturday evening near the remnants of ancient city walls and that police later identified it as Sierra's.


The agency did not say what caused her death. The private NTV television reported she was stabbed to death, while a private news agency, Dogan, said she had a wound to the head, suggesting she might have been hit by an object.


Police refused to comment on the case.


Sierra, whose children are 9 and 11, had left for Istanbul on Jan. 7 to explore her photography hobby and made a side trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Munich, Germany. She originally had planned to make the trip with a friend, but ended up travelling alone when her friend canceled.


She was in regular contact with friends and family and was last in touch with her family on Jan. 21, the day she was due back in New York.


Sierra's body was found the day after a suicide bomber struck the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, killing himself and a Turkish security guard. No connection was made between the two incidents.


The bomber, identified as 40-year-old leftist militant Ecevit Sanli, spent several years in prison on terrorism charges but was released on probation after being diagnosed with a hunger strike-related brain disorder, officials said Saturday.


Also Saturday, an outlawed leftist militant group, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on a website linked to the group.


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