6 Turkish forces killed, US consulate attacked as violence rages

2015-08-10 14:43

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Istanbul - Six members of the Turkish security forces were killed and the US consulate in Istanbul hit by a gun attack in a day of violence on Monday blamed on Kurdish and Marxist radicals as the government pressed on its air campaign against militants.

Turkey's largest city Istanbul was shaken by twin attacks on the US consulate and a police station that killed one senior officer, while five police were killed in the south-eastern Sirnak province in an escalating cycle of violence.

The government is waging a two-pronged "anti-terror" offensive against Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants following a wave of attacks in the country.

But so far air strikes have overwhelmingly focused on the Kurdish militants, who have struck back by attacking the Turkish security forces and leaving a 2013 ceasefire in tatters.

Four Turkish police officers were killed in a roadside bomb attack in the south-eastern Silopi district of Sirnak province bordering Iraq and Syria blamed on Kurdish militants, Turkish media said.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, one Turkish soldier was killed when Kurdish militants attacked a military helicopter with rocket launchers as it was transporting personnel in Sirnak's Beytussebap district, the Dogan news agency said.

Twin attacks rock Istanbul

However the violence also spread to Istanbul, with the authorities blaming an attack on the US consulate on the outlawed Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), and an attack on a police station on the PKK.

Ankara has on occasion linked the leftist-orientated PKK to the DHKP-C.

A suspected suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at a police station in the Sultanbeyli district on the Asian side of Istanbul just after midnight, wounding ten people, three of them police, the governor's office said in a statement.

Clashes with police then continued throughout the night as other militants fired on the police station. Police took cover behind walls and behind their armoured vehicles to engage in pitched battles with the militants, television pictures showed.

Beyazit Ceken, head of the police bomb disposal department, was wounded in the clashes and died of his injuries in hospital, the governor's office said. Two militants were also killed in the clashes, it added.

Meanwhile, two armed individuals early on Monday launched a gun attack against the well-fortified US consulate in the quiet district of Istinye on the Bosphorus on the outskirts of Istanbul.

An operation was launched to capture the two militants and one of the attackers - a woman - was later captured wounded, the governor's office said, while the other female suspect was at large.

The official Anatolia news agency named her as Hatice Asik, 42, a member of the outlawed DHKP-C who had been planning a suicide bombing.

The DHKP-C has carried out a string of attacks in Turkey in the past, including claiming a 2013 suicide attack on the US embassy in Ankara.

The authorities have targeted suspected members of DHKP-C as well as IS and the PKK in a succession of "anti-terror" raids in the last two weeks.

A statement by a consulate spokesperson confirmed that there had been a "security incident" near the mission.

"The Consulate General remains closed to the public until further notice," the statement said.

'Turkey protecting ISIS'

The state-run Anatolia news agency said over the weekend that so far 390 "terrorists" have been killed in the air campaign in Turkey and northern Iraq with 400 wounded.

The PKK's insurgency for greater rights and powers for Turkey's Kurdish minority began more than 30 years ago and has left tens of thousands dead.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States but Ankara's Western allies have urged it to show restraint in the onslaught.

Senior PKK figure Cemil Bayik told the BBC in an interview Monday that Turkey was trying to protect IS by fighting the PKK, who are bitterly opposed to the jihadists.

"They are doing it to limit the PKK's fight against ISIS. Turkey is protecting ISIS," he said.

According to an AFP toll, 28 members of the security forces have been killed in violence linked to the PKK since the current crisis began.

The government has also vowed to begin strikes against ISIS jihadists in Syria alongside US forces who have now started arriving to use the well-located Incirlik Turkish air base in the south of the country.

Washington has long been pushing its historic ally Turkey to step up the fight against ISIS, something Ankara had been reluctant to do.

But Turkish officials have vowed that a wider fight against ISIS will start in the coming days.

Read more on:    isis  |  turkey  |  us

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