Police kill Istanbul gunman

2011-11-30 18:00

Istanbul - A Libyan gunman wounded two people on Wednesday in one of Istanbul's top tourist attractions Wednesday before being killed by police after an hour-long shoot-out, authorities and local media said.

The man entered the Topkapi Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait and began shooting in all directions with a pump action shotgun, NTV television quoted Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin as saying.

"With his weapon he began to fire everywhere," he said.

Police rushed to the scene and exchanged fire with the man before shooting him dead. "The operation neutralised the aggressor," Capkin said.

Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin told reporters the man was using a car registered in neighbouring Syria, whose relations with Turkey have slumped in recent months.

"It had a Syrian registration plate. It belongs to someone else, but the links are not very clear," Sahin said.

He said that despite the registration, the man was a Libyan national who had entered the country on Sunday.

The man shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) before opening fire in an apparently indiscriminate attack in the former Ottoman sultans' palace, which is visited by thousands of tourists every day, NTV quoted witnesses as saying.

Officials said the wounded were a private security guard and a soldier.

Hour of firing

"The state of our soldier is good, but that of the security guard is more serious," Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told Anatolia news agency, which named the attacker as Samir Ali Salem Elmadhavri.

Special police forces, backed by a helicopter, shot the man dead after more than an hour of firing, according to NTV, which broadcast a picture of the assailant, heavily armed with a belt of cartridges and a gun.

The attack came as Turkey announced on Wednesday the adoption of retaliatory measures against Syria to force the regime in Damascus to end the violent repression of opposition movements on its territory.

Turkish authorities however denied any speculation about the motive of the attack.

"We believe that this is a purely individual act," said Mutlu.

Topkapi lies in the Sultanahmet district, the heart of historic old Istanbul, which also includes the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, a former Byzantine cathedral turned mosque, which is now a museum.