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Turkey: Ruling party’s Istanbul headquarters attacked

January 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Turkish flags fly at half mast on December 11, 2016 [File photo by Cem Öksüz / Anadolu Agency]

A suspected Kurdish terror attack has struck Istanbul again, this time targeting Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) headquarters in the centre of the historical metropolis with a rocket attack. Hours earlier, a major Istanbul police headquarters building was also attacked.

The first attack involved an unknown number of militants, who fired off a rocket at the Istanbul Police Directorate in the Emniyet neighbourhood of Fatih district in central Istanbul.

The governor of Istanbul, Vasip Sahin, said that the munitions used in the attack were anti-tank rounds fired from a rocket launcher. MEMO has seen photographs that indicate that the weapon used could be an M72 LAW, a US-made, single-shot anti-armour rocket launcher.

AKP Sutluce undetonated munition [Image from sources on the ground in Turkey]

According to the governor, there were no casualties in the attack, as the rocket struck the police building’s garden wall only.

Hours later, the AKP’s main headquarters in the Sutluce neighbourhood overlooking the Golden Horn waterway was struck by another rocket attack.

Images provided by AKP to MEMO show an unexploded round buried into a hanging copy of the Turkish national anthem in one of the third floor offices of the building.

The rocket attacks also caused significant damage inside the AKP building, with photographs showing panes of glass blown out, shattered glass on the floors of the offices and walls and dividers damaged by the explosive munitions.

Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper with close ties to the government, reported AKP provincial head Selim Temurci as saying that extremist Kurdish leftists in the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) were responsible for the attacks.

Turkey, once part of the frontline against Communism during the Cold War, has suffered from long-term leftist attacks, largely launched by Kurdish separatist groups like the DHKP-C or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The DHKP-C are responsible for taking prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz hostage in March last year in events that eventually led to the deaths of the leftist extremists as well as their prisoner.

The PKK and DHKP-C are recognised as terrorists by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.