Turkey de­tains left­ists af­ter hostage drama

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY STU­ART WIL­LIAMS AND DI­LAY GUN­DO­GAN

Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties on Wed­nes­day rounded up over 30 sus­pected mem­bers of the rad­i­cal left­ist group be­hind a bloody hostage stand­off that left a top Istanbul pros­e­cu­tor dead and shocked the coun­try.

Fu­neral cer­e­monies were be­ing held for pros­e­cu­tor Mehmet Se­lim Ki­raz, who had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the po­lit­i­cally-sen­si­tive case of a teenager who died of in­juries in­flicted by po­lice dur­ing antigov­ern­ment protests in 2013.

Po­lice late on Tues­day launched an op­er­a­tion to free Ki­raz af­ter an hours-long stand­off with his cap­tors but the of­fi­cial, who had sus­tained mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds to the head and chest, died shortly af­ter ar­riv­ing at hos­pi­tal.

It was not clear from where the shots that killed him were fired.

Both his cap­tors, two men in their 20s af­fil­i­ated to the outlawed Marx­ist Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Party-Front (DHKP-C), were killed in the po­lice op­er­a­tion.

Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties on Wed­nes­day de­tained 22 sus­pected mem­bers of the group in the south­ern city of An­talya af­ter re­ceiv­ing a tip-off they were plan­ning fur­ther at­tacks, the Do­gan news agency re­ported.

Po­lice

in

the west­ern

city

of Izmir also de­tained five sus­pected DHKP-C mem­bers, seiz­ing doc­u­ments, dig­i­tal record­ings, banned mag­a­zines and 30 bul­lets. Five more peo­ple were also de­tained in Eskise­hir, re­ports said.

The DHKP-C is con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist group by Turkey, the Euro­pean Union and the United States and has car­ried out a string of at­tacks in Turkey in the past.

Turk­ish po­lice also ar­rested an armed man who stormed an of­fice of the rul­ing party in an Istanbul dis­trict but the in­ci­dent was not be­lieved to be re­lated.

‘We won’t for­get you’

A cer­e­mony to re­mem­ber Ki­raz was held at the Istanbul Caglayan Palace of Jus­tice where he worked and the hostage drama un­folded.

Hun­dreds of lawyers, pros­e­cu­tors and staff stood in re­spect on ev­ery floor of the gi­ant build­ing — said to be the largest court­house in Europe — and un­furled a gi­ant Turk­ish flag from the top floor.

“We will not for­get you, our martyr,” read a gi­gan­tic ban­ner.

Prime Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu was to be among the mourn­ers at the fu­neral at the Eyup Sul­tan Mosque in Istanbul on the banks of the Golden Horn, with po­lice snipers placed on the bal­conies of minarets amid tight se­cu­rity.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, cur­rently on a visit to Roma- nia, would re­turn home early and miss the of­fi­cial din­ner in Bucharest, the of­fi­cial Ana­to­lia news agency said.

Turkey’s press ex­pressed an­guish over a “Black Tues­day” which also saw the worst na­tion­wide power cut in the coun­try in 15 years.

“The day we went into dark­ness,” said the daily Cumhuriyet.

Turk­ish me­dia re­ports said the at­tack­ers had car­ried fake lawyers’ ID and had legal robes, al­low­ing them to get round se­cu­rity checks.

Ki­raz pressed a panic but­ton af­ter he was seized but the at­tack­ers had al­ready locked the doors, the Mil­liyet daily said.

The cir­cum­stances of the po­lice op­er­a­tion were not im­me­di­ately clear but Istanbul po­lice said it was launched af­ter they heard gun­shots com­ing from the of­fice where he was held.

En­ergy Min­is­ter Taner Yildiz ve­he­mently de­nied there was any link be­tween the hostage drama and the power cut, af­ter op­po­si­tion leader Ke­mal Kil­ic­daroglu claimed the power could have been cut in­ten­tion­ally to as­sist the cap­tors.

The drama came at a time of in­ten­si­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal ten­sions in Turkey ahead of June 7 leg­isla­tive elec­tions.

AP

Po­lice of­fi­cers carry the cof­fin as thou­sands of peo­ple at­tend the fu­neral cer­e­mony for Turk­ish pros­e­cu­tor Mehmet Se­lim Ki­raz in­side the main court­house where he died on Tues­day in Istanbul, Turkey on Wed­nes­day, April 1.

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