World

Two alleged extremists shot dead in attack on Turkey’s best-known courthouse

A civilian also died after the attack at the Caglayan courthouse in Istanbul.

Security officers check the site where two attackers were killed (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Turkey Courthouse Attack Security officers check the site where two attackers were killed (AP Photo/Francisco Seco) (Francisco Seco/AP)

Two people have attacked Turkey’s best-known courthouse before being shot dead, and authorities alleged the assailants were part of an extremist organisation that had been largely inactive in recent years.

Interior minister Ali Yerlikaya said the man and woman tried to attack a security checkpoint at the Caglayan courthouse in Istanbul on Tuesday, and six people were wounded, including three police officers.

Justice minister Yilmaz Tunc later said one of the civilians, a woman, died.

Security and forensic officers check the site (Sercan Ozkurnazli/Dia Images/AP)
Turkey Courthouse Attack Security and forensic officers check the site (Sercan Ozkurnazli/Dia Images/AP) (Sercan Ozkurnazli/AP)

Mr Yerlikaya later said the attackers were alleged members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP/C, a far-left group considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

The Caglayan courthouse, also known as the Istanbul Justice Palace, is a huge and heavily guarded complex in the Kagithane district. It was Europe’s largest courthouse when it opened in 2011.

Footage published by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency showed the assailants appearing to shoot at police before being gunned down in the building’s forecourt, while bystanders run for cover.

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

The justice minister said the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation. Mr Tunc told journalists the attackers had previously served jail terms for terror offences.

Security officers at the scene in Istanbul (Francisco Seco/AP)
Turkey Courthouse Attack Security officers at the scene in Istanbul (Francisco Seco/AP) (Francisco Seco/AP)

A witness to Tuesday’s attack, Emre Ozyurt, said his “blood froze” as bystanders fled in fright.

The attack took place on the day Turkey commemorated the anniversary of an earthquake in the south that killed more than 53,000 people.

“The Republic of Turkey will continue to fight against all terrorist organisations and those who support them,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a commemoration ceremony in the city of Kahramanmaras.

“I would like to pray for the soul of the injured person who lost their life.”

In March 2015, the DHKP/C group 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 a February 2013 suicide bombing on the US Embassy in Ankara in which a Turkish security guard was killed and four other people were wounded.