1 person is killed and 2 assailants are shot dead during an attack on a Turkish courthouse


ISTANBUL (AP) — One person died and two assailants were fatally shot in an attack on a courthouse in Istanbul on Tuesday, Turkish officials said.

The attackers, a man and woman, were killed during an “attempt to attack” a security checkpoint at the Caglayan courthouse, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya posted on social media.

He said six people were wounded, including three police officers. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later said one of the civilians died.

Caglayan, which is also known as the Istanbul Justice Palace, is a huge court complex in the Kagithane district on the city’s European side. Heavily guarded and with multiple entrances, it was Europe’s largest courthouse at the time of its opening in 2011.

Camera footage published by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency showed the assailants being gunned down on the building’s forecourt. They appeared to shoot back at police before they were killed.

Other images showed people sheltering by the gates of a metal detector inside the courthouse or running for cover. Police officers helped a man who appeared to have been wounded in the leg.

Mahir Yildiz heard gunshots as he left the courthouse. “One of the people was a woman and one was a man,” he said. “The police returned fire. The man was shot first, then the woman fired a few shots and they shot her.”

Another witness, Emre Ozyurt, said his “blood froze” as he was caught up in the attack. “People were very scared, there were people running left and right,” he said.

Yerlikaya later identified the attackers as alleged members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP/C, a far-left group that is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation, Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said.

Private news agency DHA reported that the elder sister of the female attacker appeared as a defendant at Caglayan just half an hour after the attack. She faced charges of membership in a terrorist organization and possessing dangerous materials.

The attack took place on the day that Turkey was commemorating the anniversary of an earthquake in the country’s south that killed more than 53,000 people.

“The Republic of Turkey will continue to fight against all terrorist organizations and those who support them,” Erdogan said at an earthquake commemoration ceremony in the southern city of Kahramanmaras. “I would like to pray for the soul of the injured person who lost their life.”

The DHKP/C has been largely inactive in recent years. In March 2015, it took a prosecutor hostage at the same courthouse, demanding details about the police killing of a teenager during anti-government protests the previous year.

Two gunmen died as police stormed the building, and the prosecutor later died of his injuries.

The group also claimed responsibility for a February 2013 suicide bomb attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara in which a Turkish security guard was killed and four other people wounded.

Last month, a man was shot and killed at an Istanbul church in an attack that was claimed by the Islamic State group.

Two men were later arrested on suspicion of killing Tuncer Cihan on Jan. 28 at the Santa Maria Church in the Buyukdere neighborhood. Dozens of suspected IS members and supporters also were detained.

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