Turkey arrests leftists after deadly hostage standoff

Police arrest 19 suspects linked to outlawed leftist group behind standoff that killed prosecutor in Istanbul.

    The arrests follow the unsuccessful attempt to free a prosecutor held hostage by leftists in Istanbul [AP]
    The arrests follow the unsuccessful attempt to free a prosecutor held hostage by leftists in Istanbul [AP]

    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 allegedly linked to the outlawed Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), the same group behind Tuesday's incident.

    Police units say they tried unsuccessfully to rescue prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz after shots were fired by the two hostage-takers.

    Kiraz was fatally wounded during the operation and died later in hospital, Selami Altiok, the city's police chief, said at a news conference.

    "After gunshots were heard from the room, security forces carried out the operation," Altiok added. Both attackers were also killed in the raid.

    Altiok said that police had been in communication with the armed men for six hours prior to the operation.

    Turkish media had earlier shown photos of an armed man holding a gun to the prosecutor's head while his hands were tied.

    Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting form outside the courthouse, said that investigators at the scene were focusing on how the guns used were brought into the well-protected building.

    "Only lawyers are entitled to go into the courthouse without being searched," Smith said.
    Kiraz had been investigating the killing of Berkin Elvan, who died in March last year after spending 269 days in a coma due to injuries inflicted by police during mass protests in the summer of 2013.

    List of demands

    The DHKP/C had announced a list of demands in exchange for the release of the prosecutor, which included the arrest of the officer believed to have killed Elvan, according to a statement on the group's website.

    The group also demanded the right to attend rallies in solidarity with the Elvan's family be reinstated.

    Sami Elvan, Berkin's father, posted a video on Twitter imploring the hostage takers not to hurt Kiraz.

    The judicial process in the case of Elvan's death has been widely criticised in Turkey.

    The Istanbul Police Department did not forward the identities of the policemen suspected of killing Elvan to the prosecutor's office until March, a year after the teenager's death.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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