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Hostage shootout in Turkey ends with death of prosecutor and two militants

Mehmet Selim Kiraz was investigating the death of a protester whose injuries were inflicted by Turkish police.
Mar 31st 2015, 11:14 PM 49,490 14

Updated 9.34 pm

Turkey Hostage An ambulance leaves the main courthouse taking Mehmet Selim Kiraz to hospital. Source: AP/Press Association Images

A SENIOR TURKISH prosecutor has died in hospital after being wounded when security forces intervened after he’d been taken hostage.

Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz “was severely injured when he arrived (at the hospital) but we lost him despite all our efforts,” hospital doctors said in statement broadcast on national television.

Armed forces intervened to free Kiraz after the six-hour standoff in Istanbul with two hostage-takers also killed.   

Two radical leftist militants had taken him hostage in his office, putting a gun to his head and threatening to kill him if their demands were not met.

Their demands related to the investigation Kiraz was leading into the killing of teenager Berkin Elvan.

Elvan died in March of last year after spending 269 days in a coma from injuries inflicted by police in anti-government protests in the summer of 2013.

Elva was hit by a tear gas canister fired by police in mass protests in the early summer of 2013 against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was then premier.

He was aged 15 at the time of his death, which was followed by mass nationwide protests that were also put down by the police.

Authorities today initially tried negotiating with the captors on a hugely tense day in Turkey’s largest city which also saw a major power cut.

But they decided to launch an operation to free the prosecutor when gunfire was heard in their mobile phone communications with the captors, Istanbul police chief Selami Altinok told reporters outside the courthouse.

Mehmet Selim Kiraz  was seriosuly injured in the resulting operation and hospital officials say he has now died.

Several explosions and gunfire was heard after the operation was launched, with an ambulance seen taking Kiraz away.

Media blackout

The hostage-taking was claimed by the radical Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party–Front (DHKP-C), which has been behind a string of attacks over the last years.

The DHKP-C is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

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Turkey Hostage Members of Turkey's special security forces prepare outside the courthouse. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The group earlier published pictures showing one of the militants — his face concealed by a scarf with the group’s red and yellow insignia — holding a gun to Kiraz’s head.

They had also plastered their flags and posters on the walls of his office which is on the fifth floor of the courthouse building.

The group had given an afternoon deadline for the prosecutor to identify the police officers who they say were behind the killing of Elvan or he would be shot.

Their demands also included a “live confession” by the officers responsible and that they should be put before a “people’s court”.

Kiraz, wearing a suit and tie, was made to stare into the camera as the militant puts his hand round his chin. His mouth was bound with duct tape.

The Turkish television watchdog ordered a media blackout on reporting of the standoff, forcing Turkish television channels to cut the live transmissions of the incident.

Broadcasts only resumed when Altinok gave the statement on the operation live on Turkish television.

- © AFP 2015.

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