Turkey police raid militants after leftist attacks
Turkish police on Thursday launched early morning raids against suspected members of an ultra-leftist group in Istanbul, after two deadly shootouts blamed on the militants that sent a wave of fear through the city. At least 24 people were arrested in the raids in the Okmeydani district of Istanbul as dozens of police deployed in armoured vehicles in the area, Turkish media said. Police also seized firearms, documents, computers, a large number of bullets and communications devices.
The raids came two days after a prosecutor was killed in Istanbul in a hostage-taking blamed on the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C). Turkish media said police also arrested five suspected DHKP-C members in the eastern city of Kars and 10 in the Black Sea town of Karabuk. On Wednesday, a militant tried to storm the police headquarters in Istanbul. Police opened fire in response, killing the female assailant who was armed with grenades and guns. Turkish media named the dead woman as Elif Sultan Kalsen, 28, saying she was a known member of the DHKP-C.
…In addition, riot police also detained 36 students at İstanbul University after posters referring to one of the dead hostage-takers were put up in the law faculty, a leftist union said on its website on Wednesday evening. The music band Grup Yorum released a statement on Thursday saying that two of their members are among those taken into custody in the morning raids on the DHKP/C. The statement said “Grup Yorum members Ezgi Dilan Balcı and Cihan Keşkek, our student İlkay İşler, an employee of our culture center Damla Sandal and our guest Steve Kaczky are currently in custody. The murderers of Berkin broke the door and the windows of our culture center and detained our friends. They damaged our musical instruments.”
Twenty-nine people have been detained in three provinces of Turkey for having alleged links to armed leftist group DHKP-C. The operations on Wednesday came one day after Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was shot dead after being taken hostage by gunmen in an Istanbul courthouse. Police raided houses in western Izmir, Eskisehir and southern Antalya. In Antalya, 19 people were taken into custody while five were held in each of the provinces of Izmir and Eskisehir.
…Turkish authorities have detained 19 suspected leftists in the southern city of Antalya, a day after a hostage siege in an Istanbul courthouse left a senior prosecutor and his captors dead. Acting on a tip-off, police conducted raids on Wednesday detaining the students, all of them linked to the outlawed Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), the same group behind Tuesday’s incident.
…Intelligence reports on two terrorists who were killed in a raid at Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse on Tuesday, after they gunned down the prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, revealed they made a call to senior officials of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) residing in Greece. Senior militants ordered Bahtiyar Doğruyol, one of the terrorists, to kill Kiraz on the phone. Phone calls were made to Agonas, a Greece-based daily published by the terrorist organization’s members, for a lengthy period during the hours of hostage crisis in the courthouse.
Upon instruction from DHKP-C leaders in Greece, he shot the prosecutor dead. Intelligence sources said his superiors were working at the magazine and a television station affiliated with the terrorist organization. Greece, along with Syria, which is regarded as the birthplace of the group, are among countries where the members of the terrorist organization took shelter after a string of crackdowns by Turkish security forces in the past. Lavrion, located on Greece’s Aegean coast, houses a refugee camp which is largely occupied by terrorists who use it as a training camp for their activities.
The terrorist organization was planning to relocate the camp to Georgia before the Greek elections after the previous Greek government pledged to shut down the camp but decided to keep it after Alexis Tsipras’s radical leftist government came to power. The Lavrion camp has housed several DHKP-C militants since the 1970s, long before far-left militants founded the present-day organization after splintering from a larger body of radical factions. Bahtiyar Doğruyol was captured in 2012 in the northwestern Turkey while he was trying to sneak into Greece to travel to Lavrion. He was released last year. Among the former residents of the camp was Ecevit Şanlı who entered Turkey with a forged passport and blew himself up in front of the U.S. embassy in Ankara two years ago, killing a Turkish security guard.
Greece has long been a favorite hideaway for militants from the DHKP-C, as well as the PKK, another terrorist organization. Under the guise of asylum seekers “fleeing persecution” at home, terrorists are often accepted into the country. The country, that had strained ties with neighboring Turkey, changed its much-criticized policy of tolerance for supporters of the terrorist organization and a number of militants were arrested last year in several operations, including high-ranking members of the group. The move was seen as improving counter-terrorism cooperation between Turkey and Greece although the refusal of Greek courts to extradite several suspects overshadowed the efforts. Meanwhile, Turkish security forces have continued their clampdown on supporters of the terrorist organization. The latest crackdown was in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı, a neighborhood on the city’s European side where the DHKP-C draws support.
Turkey Struck By Attacks on Government and Party Offices
ISTANBUL—Three armed attacks over two days have rocked Istanbul, raising the fear of violence in the run up to June elections and exposing deepening fault lines in Turkish society. On Wednesday evening, two attackers carrying hand grenades launched a brazen assault on the city’s police headquarters, sparking a shootout in which one assailant was killed and two policemen injured. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Istanbul’s governor, Vasip Sahin, said that in the latest assault, rifle-wielding assailants shot at police stationed at the headquarters building. Security forces returned fire, killing a woman armed with two hand grenades, a rifle and a pistol, the governor’s office said late Wednesday. Her male accomplice fled, but was later captured after a police helicopter was dispatched, the governor said….
Gunman Arrested At Turkey Ruling Party Office
A gunman who smashed a window and unveiled a flag at the offices of Turkey’s ruling party the day after a siege in which a prosecutor died has been arrested. Turkey’s Dogan news agency had earlier reported that two people had been seen entering the office of the AK Party carrying weapons. Police sealed off the road around the office in an industrial suburb of Istanbul but later said just one man had been detained.